Apparently Timothy was letting shame affect his ministry. His spiritual mentor had been in jail and was continually being tried and persecuted. There was opposition on every side by religious men teaching other doctrines.
The size of his ministry added to his shame being smaller than other religious groups. The small group he did have doubted his leadership capabilities because of his age and experience (1 Tim 4:12). There were disputes about charity, responsibility, and sound doctrine.
He thought his shame was caused by his involvement in a groundbreaking ministry that was preaching a message kept secret since the world began (Rom 16:25). The more Timothy focused on sound doctrine, the more opposition he faced.
Daily he would face temptation to dilute his message to be more compatible. If he were not so adamant about God’s grace then he would be more well received. He was tired of striving and perhaps desired more respect and comfort. He was facing his worst enemy: himself. He was ashamed.
The Cure for Shame
Paul mentions the word ‘ashamed’ four times in the first two chapters of his second letter to address Timothy’s fears.
“God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner:” – 2 Tim 1:7-8
Shame comes from performing ministry by reputation. The cure is to perform ministry unto God.
For encouragement Paul reminds Timothy of the holy calling God had given them and his own appointment as an apostle and teacher.
“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast…” – 2 Tim 1:12-13
Approved Unto God
While Timothy was facing his own ministry disappointments, Paul explains a bigger case of unfaithfulness in “all they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim 1:15).
Desertion is not an option for God’s ministers. Faithfulness is required. Shame slowly erodes faithfulness to God as your eyes get diverted to the opinions of men.
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” – 2 Tim 2:2
God needs faithful men to do the necessary work of preaching the gospel committed to Paul:
“Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:” – 2 Tim 2:8
It is no easy task to “endure hardness”, but if Timothy studied the word of truth rightly divided then he would appear approved unto God as an unashamed workman (2 Tim 2:15).
Shame will cripple a ministry and eventually separate it from sound doctrine. Faithfulness to God’s word rightly divided is the cure. Leave the focus on God and not on your reputation.
“… charge some that they teach no other doctrine…” – 1 Tim 1:3