Am I Willing to Endure Anything For the Gospel?

Recently I was reading in 2 Timothy and was struck by these words from the Apostle Paul in verse 10: “I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.”

It can be easy to read the words “I am willing to endure anything” and simply chalk it up as spiritual hyberbole.

But we can’t be too quick to move past these words because Paul is giving us a huge glimpse into what he is passionate about as a follower of Jesus.

In verse 10 he is saying, ‘I will give everything I have so that others may know Christ.” Think about that for a moment. Many people have declared their love for the wife, children and even their country by saying they will give everything or even their life for them. But the thing Paul will give everything to is to see people place their trust in Jesus for their salvation. In this verse we see the heart of Paul. It is his passion that people come to know Christ as Savior.

And while I do beleive Paul is telling us what his life is committed to, I also believe that Paul is telling us what our life should be committed to. We are also to fully give our life in this temporary world so that others may know Christ. I think too often we read the life of Paul as if he has a different calling. And yes, he did have a specific calling to a specific people we will never meet and to places that we may never go. But Paul’s calling to proclaim the Gospel and give his life for the Gospel is not unique to Him or other specially gifted people. His pursuit in verse 10 should be our pursuit.

So why does Paul’s words feel like hyperbole and not reality? I think it is because we too often don’t fully grasp what Jesus has called us to. We don’t realize that when Jesus told us to take up our cross and follow him that “cross” we are to take up is not a religious lifestyle but it is a laying down of our life.

When Jesus says take up your cross he is saying lay down your life and come and make your life about me. But too often we attempt to follow Christ without laying down our own life. And so a statement like Paul’s in which he said, “I am will to endure anything…” feels jarring and urealistic. How can I endure anying? I have a family to take care of, I have business responsibilities and community responsibilities. I have a reputation, I have life pursuits, I have retirement plans.

And so we make following Christ a part of our life instead of our life. It is just one of the pieces that we juggle in our every day existence. And yet when Christ called us to take up our cross, it wasn’t taking up Christianity and fitting it into our life. Jesus was calling us to something far more transformational and consuming. He was saying down your life and make my life your life. Make my mission your mission. My heart, your heart.

Jesus wants us to be able say the words of Paul in Galatians 2:20, “I no longer live but Christ lives in me.”

If we are going to wrestling with hyperbole then we must start with the words of Jesus. Was Jesus serious when he told us to take up our cross. Was he serious we he said to know life, we must lose our life?

If a disciple is one who denies himself and follows Jesus, then it fully makes sense and even expected that Paul would say “I will endure anything” for the sake of others coming to know Christ.

As I have thought about Paul’s word’s in verse 10, I have found myself changing it into a question: Am I willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen?

And for me to answer that question, I have to first answer the question, “Am I willing to truly deny myself, take up my cross and follow Jesus?” Oh Lord,, give me the desire to answer yes to those questions. May I not live this life half-hearted and half-committed. My I also be willing to endure anything and everything so that all my know the hope and love and salvation that is found in Christ and Christ alone.

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