May 13: Shipwrecked

Ruth 3:1–4:22; 1 Timothy 1:12–20; Psalm 73:11–28

“I am setting before you this instruction, Timothy my child, in accordance with the prophecies spoken long ago about you, in order that by them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience, which some, because they have rejected these, have suffered shipwreck concerning their faith” (1 Tim 1:18–19).

Paul had experienced being shipwrecked multiple times in his life, and in this passage, he metaphorically ascribes his experience to that of people who turn from faith in Christ. The imagery of being shipwrecked captures the spiritual state of aimlessness that results from a misguided conscience—one that isn’t grounded in faith. Among those who experienced this shipwreck were Hymenaeus and Alexander, former believers who became blasphemers. They had known the truth of Jesus but were now publicly opposing it (1 Tim 1:20).

Paul admits he had once been a blasphemer himself, but he was “shown mercy because [he] acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Tim 1:13). In contrast, Hymenaeus and Alexander blasphemed deliberately by turning from the faith and opposing Paul, even though they knew about God’s grace through Christ.

In Psalm 73, the psalmist uses similar imagery when describing those who wickedly turn from God: “abundant waters are slurped up by them.” The psalmist’s line captures the attitude of these wicked people. They ask mocking questions: “How does God know?” and “Does the Most High have knowledge?” (Psa 73:11). Although they acknowledge God’s presence on some level, they fail to respond. They act in deliberate disobedience.

Following God isn’t optional in either big or small decisions. Paul warns Timothy that this “fight” includes making daily choices that align with faith and a good conscience. Certainly we will fail in following Him—that’s precisely why we need His grace so badly. But deliberately acting against what we know, when we’re aware of His grace, will only result in being shipwrecked.

Are you making deliberate decisions against following God? How has this harmed your relationship with Him? How can you align with His expectations for your life?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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