Do Not Lower the Sail
I am a long way from being an accomplished sailor, but the apostle Paul spent many days aboard ships throughout his life. He understood nautical terms and used one of them three times in the Bible. The Greek word is hupostello and refers to what happened whenever the captain of the ship sensed troubled waters ahead. It was used to describe what happened when he ordered his sailor to lower the sails to avoid what lay ahead.
Paul used the term “lowering the sail” twice in his meeting with the Ephesian elders. He described the teaching he had done in the three years he was located in Ephesus. He specifically mentioned that he taught the same both publicly and from house to house. Those years were filled with adversity—remember the riot his preaching had caused with the silversmiths in Ephesus who made images of Diana—yet Paul stayed the course. He said, “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable to you” (Acts 20:20). The expression “I did not shrink” is that Greek word. When troubled water lay ahead, he did not “lower the sails” even once.
Paul’s second use of the word described the heart of this great apostle and preceded his admonition to the Ephesian elders to shepherd the Lord’s sheep and protect them from false teachers, even if the false teachers were part of the eldership. Paul said, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock…” (Acts 20:27). When false teachers threatened the church, Paul did not shrink—he did not “lower the sails!” Imagine the impact there would be on congregations if all elders refused to “lower the sails” even though such actions mean they would have to sail through trouble waters.
In Galatians 2:12, Paul used the term to describe what Peter did because of racial prejudice in the church. On one occasion Peter associated freely with Gentile Christians, but when Jewish brethren arrived, “He withdrew himself…fearing them who were of the circumcision.” The words “withdrew himself” are from this same Greek word. He “lowered the sails” rather than navigating and conquering the troubled waters ahead.
The church needs leaders who will never “lower the sails” rather than doing what was right. Our homes need mothers and fathers who refuse to “lower the sails” instead of creating needed conflict with their children. Our homes need husbands who courageously lead their wives and children, even though it means dealing with trouble waters.
Do not ever “lower the sails.” Remember that “it is always right to do right…”