When Paul Gets Personal
When Paul Gets Personal
Figures of speech are used in every language to color, emphasize ideas and make each language more expressive. Examples such as “I’ve got a mountain of work ahead of me” or “I bit the bullet.” The south seems to take this practice and ramp it up to a new level. Being from the south, I know one can construct an entire language out of idioms. People are always “fixin” to do something and being “up a creek” is a negative thing. I could go on until the cows come home, but being Southerners yourself, you get the picture. Colloquial language can be fun and, when both the speaker and the hearer understand such language, it can make conversation meaningful.
Interestingly, various figures of speech (including regional idioms and colloquial phrases) can be seen throughout Scripture. Some of these instances are extremely powerful as the writer seeks to make a point. Perhaps one of the more heartfelt images can be found in the first chapter of 1 Timothy. Within this letter, Paul is expressing to the young preacher the necessity of remaining godly. Notice 1:19, “holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith.”
The only other time the word for “shipwreck” appears in the New Testament is in 2 Corinthians 11:25. Within that context, Paul explains several tragic events that have inflicted pain on him. If anyone knew the devastating forces of a shipwreck, it’d be Paul. With this personal and experiential knowledge, Paul now makes the point that there are those who are shipwrecking their faith because they are rejecting a godly lifestyle.
I know several people who have been in car accidents so severe it put their lives in jeopardy. If one of them came to me after his/her recovery and said, “by rejecting godly living, there are those who make a car wreck of their faith,” I would listen. Imagine being in the shoes of Timothy as he reads this statement from his father in the faith. Two great lessons can be gleaned from this one verse. First, it shows the passion that Paul had behind his teachings. I don’t remember who said it, but they said “religion isn’t powerful until it’s personal.” Second, we need to hear his words and recognize the role that a steady, godly life plays in aiding our faith.