Monday, January 30, 2017


(submitted by Kerry Patton)
“This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. 20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.”    1 Timothy 1:18-20
On The Rocks
The Apostle Paul knew a thing or two about being shipwrecked.  According to 2nd Corinthians 11:25, Paul was shipwrecked three times…on one occasion was adrift in the water for a day and a night.  Another time, he and his companions had been on the Adriatic Sea for 14 days while a storm raged when the ship they were on ran aground on the island of Malta.  There, battered by the wind and waves, their ship was broken up by the crushing power of the storm.
Those who could, swam for the shore, while others drifted ashore on planks or other flotsam.  Upon arriving ashore…while the storm continued to rage, Paul gathered some wood for a fire they had started, and was bitten by a snake which had been hiding in the wood he was carrying.  So, when Paul wrote about people suffering shipwreck in regard to their faith, it is a very vivid portrait of horror, destruction and peril that he draws upon.
Hymenaeus and Alexander
 “…20Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme.” None of us like to be singled out when the reprimands are being handed out.  But imagine being used by Paul himself as an illustration of the very worst spiritual offenders.  We don’t know much in depth about these two individuals, except that their actions and apparently heretical beliefs brought about their excommunication (effectively, being kicked out) from the faith. 
Worse, and we don’t hear much about this part in today’s culture; it seems from historical commentaries that apostles…and apostles alone, may have had some ability to bring down physical suffering and disease upon those who would not repent of causing trouble, or teaching falsely, and blaspheming within the fledgling church.  Of such as these, it was said they had been: “handed over to Satan.”  YIKES!!  (Examples of this in scripture would be Paul’s blinding of Simon bar Jesus in Acts 13:11, and Peter and John’s encounter with Simon the Sorcerer in Acts chapter 8.) 
The Point However…
…of Paul’s instruction to Timothy was that he fight the good fight, keep the faith and a good conscience, and not reject these things...for to do so, could lead one into that severe spiritual state to which he compared the violence and destruction of having been shipwrecked.  If we were to really simplify Paul’s words to Timothy, he might have said: “Timothy…please…BE CAREFUL!!  Watch your faith.  Think about what you say.  Think about what you do.  Think about what you THINK about.  If you compromise your faith, you could lose everything…your witness, your ministry, it could shatter your whole life.  Avoid this spiritual shipwreck…at all cost!”
I think Paul would have the same heart cry for each of us. No Christian wakes up in the morning and says to him or herself: “I think I’m going to throw it all away today.  Today, I will make the decision that ruins my marriage, or brings charges against me, or causes my witness to become worthless!” However, big compromises in integrity generally follow a pattern of little breaches in moral and spiritual reasoning.  Those small threads of compromise that we don’t take seriously and weed out may become woven into the fabric of our character and bring our spiritual walk down in pieces.  When the fruit of those compromises comes into being, we can suffer shipwreck of our faith. 

Father, your scriptures are a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. Awaken each of us to the seriousness of guarding our faith and witness.  Quicken us to consume your scriptures.  As King David prayed: “I hide your word in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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