Romans 1:16-17 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
When Paul says that he is “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” I assume that there must be a real reason why someone would feel ashamed to be preaching the true Gospel. In 2 Timothy 1:8, Paul had to remind Timothy to not be ashamed of the Gospel. The word “Gospel” may seem like a mysterious word, but the practical meaning is “good news.” The New Living Translation (a respected, slightly-paraphrased Bible translation) renders it that way. Why would somebody be ashamed of preaching good news?
The particular word “ashamed” is significant. It’s one thing to be afraid to preach the gospel due to fear of persecution. It’s one thing to feel embarrassed or awkward preaching the gospel because it makes you look weird. But, ashamed?
The primary definition for ashamed from the World English Dictionary is “overcome with shame, guilt, or remorse.” So, to be ashamed to preach the Gospel is not to be afraid of persecution or simply feel socially awkward, but to potentially feel guilty for preaching it, or to feel like you are a bad person for preaching it.
If the Gospel really is “Good News,” would it seem too good to be true for many people, and therefore seems irresponsible? Could it make you feel like you are giving a false hope? Could it make you feel naïve about the dangers of evil and sin? Or, could the Gospel make you feel like you are unjustifiably condemning other people?
Whatever the cause of shame is, Paul says that we should not let it bother us. But here’s where things get tricky: sometimes people may feel guilt because what they are preaching is false doctrine and the Holy Spirit is convicting them of that. But even the true Gospel can apparently produce feelings of shame if it is not properly framed in one’s mind. So, the challenge is distinguishing the Holy Spirit’s conviction from the feelings coming from our own minds. This is a lifelong challenge, and I invite you to share your experiences and feelings about the Gospel and how you relate to Paul’s statement in the Scripture above.