Thanksgiving week was a little rough in the Cleland household. Over a five day stretch we had a near tragedy in swimming pool and our car was broken into. Now I’d like to think we work hard to keep ourselves and our things safe. We put locks on our doors. We wash our hands. We teach our children to stay out of the street. But in spite of our best efforts to stay safe healthy people get sick and things get stolen. I simply can’t build a house secure enough to protect from every natural disaster. There are things in this world I can’t control.
In I Timothy 1:19 Paul instructs Timothy to keep faith and a good conscience lest he suffer shipwreck in regard to his faith. There is real spiritual danger lurking around every corner. Only with the eyes of faith do I even know that I have real spiritual enemies. The great danger of the Christian life is doctrinal or moral failure.
Here’s what strikes me: we work hard and expend our resources to protect our loved ones and things from the dangers we CAN see with no real assurances that we’ll ever be safe. Shouldn’t we work even harder and expend more resources to protect ourselves and our loved ones from spiritual dangers? At the very least I can know that by keeping faith and a good conscience I will be truly safe.
If I let myself, I can imagine some truly terrifying scenarios in this world. But all of them should pale in comparison to the prospect of finding my faith shipwrecked. To fail to lock my house carefully or invest my money wisely may cause me to lose my money and things. An intruder may even be found in my house waiting to make my life. But contrast that scenario with the consequences of failing to guard my faith or my conscience before God. From an eternal perspective this would be infinitely more disastrous.
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)