Sails Set in the Right Direction
Today’s Bible reading is Genesis 6 and Acts 27.
In Acts 27, the apostle Paul and 275 other people were on a ship bound for Italy. The winds had recently been against them. Luke documents,
We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. Coasting along it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near which was the city of Lasea. (27:7-8)
It had already been a strenuous journey and now, a decision had to be made–spend the winter in an unsuitable harbor or sail on into increasingly treacherous conditions.
Since much time had passed, and the voyage was now dangerous because even the Fast was already over, Paul advised them, saying, “Sirs, I perceive that the voyage will be with injury and much loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” But the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said. (27:9-11)
It’s that last sentence I’d encourage you to think about today. The Roman centurion had a choice to make in Fair Havens: listen to the pilot and owner of the ship or listen to a prisoner named Paul. He decided to “pay more attention” to the pilot and the ship’s owner and by the end of the chapter, the ship was wrecked.
That literal shipwreck made me think of Paul’s first letter to Timothy and a much more serious shipwreck.
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander… (1 Tim 1:18-19)
The circumstances between Acts 27 and 1 Timothy 1 were different, but shipwreck was the result in both situations because the right input was rejected.
Throughout 1 Timothy 1, Paul is warning young Timothy about difficult winds–different doctrines, myths which promote speculations rather than faithful stewardship, vain discussions and confident assertions that swerve hearts into perilous territory. And in the middle of that metaphorical storm, Paul shows Timothy the anchor.
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1:5)
This was the charge Paul was entrusting to Timothy. Grab on to the ropes of sincere faith and don’t let go. Keep your heart pure and your conscience clean. Set your compass on love. Process the input and advice that comes your way with wisdom. Take care who you allow to steer the rudder of your life.
In Acts 27, the man in charge paid more attention to the pilot and owner of the ship than to what Paul said, and the ship wrecked. In 1 Timothy 1, two men paid more attention to what they wanted than to what Paul said, and the ship of their faith wrecked. Thousands of years later, difficult winds continue to blow and storms still pop up on the horizon. Paul lived a long time ago, but the lighthouse of “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God” which which he was entrusted is shining brightly today.
The world around you is filled with confusing, contrary voices anxious to steer you in conflicting, deadly directions. Come what may, remember: God is the owner of the vessel. Jesus is the most qualified pilot you could ask for. Grab on to the ropes of sincere faith and don’t let go. Keep your heart pure and your conscience clean. Set your compass on love and the winds may blow in your face at times, but your sails will be set in the right direction.