“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” — 1 Timothy 1:18-19 (NASB)
Avoiding Shipwreck – A Clear and Present Danger
We are all familiar with too many names and stories of athletes whose lives have suffered shipwreck — damaged reputations, moral collapse, broken families, lost opportunity. Some of them were living on the wild side and disaster was around the corner.
But the Apostle Paul was writing to a young leader he had mentored. Timothy was solid in his faith, a rising spiritual leader. Paul directed his warning to a man who was faithfully walking with God!
Paul picks up his charge again at the end of his letter: “But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9, NASB). The word “plunge” was a word used in Paul’s day of a sinking ship.
We are all vulnerable to shipwreck. Our desires, the things that we want, set us up for destruction. Paul uses materialism as one example. Our desires easily become our pursuits. Trouble is on the horizon when “what we want” becomes what we won’t part with, what we will compromise and what we hope will fulfill us.
It is a progression — first we fall to temptation (an appeal to our desires), then we are caught in a well-disguised trap, life is slowly drained from us, then comes shipwreck, ruin and destruction.
Remember, these verses are written to followers of Jesus. In the words of an NFL chaplain to men on his team who saw themselves as invincible, “We are all just two decisions away from disaster.”
— Tom Petersburg
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