“According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”
The first phrase of verse 20 indicates Paul lived his life with the future in mind. At the end of his life, he wanted to look back and say that he had lived to the glory of God. He had a suspicion about himself, however—a vulnerable kink in his armor that might diminish his passion. He knew that he had a temptation to be ashamed of Christ and the gospel.
“that in nothing I shall be ashamed”
Paul was looking at shame from the viewpoint of the rest of his life. He was evaluating the future. He did not want to waste his time losing opportunities because of shame. He wanted to finish strong.
No matter how many times we have failed, we should not look back with regret or focus on the past. We should use our lives at the moment to set a platform for the future. Guilt may permeate us: “I should have studied more in college, and I would not be such a flop right now”; “If only I would have been more faithful to that relationship”; “I have failed as a person, and I have failed as a Christian.” This thinking is futile. The past is the past; it cannot change. We can change the future, however. There is hope. Our lives can have purpose and definition if we look at our “expectation and hope.”
“but with all boldness, as always”
“Boldness” is the antithesis to “shame.” Boldness means to speak your mind, a frankness of speaking that amounts to an intrepid communication, fearless candor. Paul had courageous openness when it came to sharing his faith.
“As always” indicates this was his pattern. He never had to regret not sharing his faith with forthrightness. He maintained that openness throughout his life. Years earlier, he had said, “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” (Ro. 1:16). Remember verse 14: “. . . much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
We fail to witness not only because of fear but because of shame. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . .” (2 Ti. 1:8). If we stand foursquare without apology, God will use us. Like Paul in jail, we need to go out on a limb and risk our “reputation” as a Christian.
Our focus should orient to the future, not the past.
Our focus should be future-oriented, not past. That future should have goal orientation: a vulnerability with fearless candor about the One we love.
Is your life tepid or intrepid? Are you willing to orient your life around sharing Christ with fearless candor?