It’s a scene from movies of a bygone era. A deadly storm at sea sends passengers and crew alike down to the lower decks to cower in fear. Only the courageous captain dares to remain on the main deck, determined to pilot his craft to safety. To ensure that he is not swept overboard by the wind and waves, he orders the first mate to lash him to the mast. As long as the ship floats, the captain will be at his station.
Paul warned Timothy about the possibility of a shipwreck of faith (1 Timothy 1:19). Hymenaeus and Alexander had already suffered such a fate (v. 20). But it need not have been. By following inspired instruction, Timothy could lash himself to the mast of his ship of faith. Consider three ideas emphasized by Paul in 1 Timothy 4.
There must first be a commitment to “the words of faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6, NKJV). Obviously Paul was referring to Scripture. By being so committed to the word of God, Timothy would be “nourished,” something necessary to maintaining strength. It would not be enough to simply give lip-service to the Bible, but the words of faith must be “carefully followed.” A doctor’s orders should be followed if physical health is desired. When an eternal soul is at stake, how much more important that we meticulously follow God’s orders!
Paul then discussed the importance of godliness (1 Timothy 4:7,8). If “godliness” seems a difficult concept to grasp, consider its opposite, “worldliness.” It’s the direction we set for our life, either to follow after God or after the world. Again, though, it takes more than profession. We must exercise ourselves in that practice. Now that the words of faith have nourished us, we must determine to obey them. For those who are so determined, there is the “promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”
Standing above our daily commitment to God’s word and the exercise of godliness is Paul’s third directive: “trust in the living God” (1 Timothy 4:10). This is what will keep us coming daily to his word, and it will motivate us to practice what we learn. But why should we trust him? Because, Paul wrote, he “is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” If God’s desire is to save us, why should we hesitate to submit to his will?
The storms of this life rage all around. Ships of faith are often tossed about wildly, and many don’t survive. But by tying ourselves to the mast, through daily devotion to the Lord, we won’t be in danger. God himself will keep our ships afloat! All we have to do is stay on board.
How to avoid spiritual shipwreck