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The Apostle Paul writes this in 2 Timothy 4:9-18:

“Do your best to come to me soon. (10) For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (11) Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. (12) Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. (13) When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (14) Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. (15) Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. (16) At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! (17) But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. (18) The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen: (ESV).

Have you ever been deserted by someone you loved and was depending on in life? Well, the Apostle Paul tells us here that Demas had deserted him. Demas was in some a helper or assistant to Paul in Paul’s ministry. When Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians, he wrote this about Demas in Colossians 4:14, “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas” (ESV). 

The Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome and for some reason Demas had left Paul and gone to Thessalonica. Maybe he had pressing family issues, or was weary that Paul’s ministry was not more entertaining or fulfilling in his own definition. We learn nothing more about Demas — other than he abandoned Paul in prison. Maybe he was worried that Roman officials would arrest him and put him in prison as well. We don’t know. 

We take Paul’s comments to mean Demas left for all the wrong reasons. The truth is no organization or person succeeds without the help from others. Think about where you work or went to school or shop from groceries or go to church. It takes more than just you to make those areas successful. In Paul’s closing remarks he names people who were helpful to him  and those who were not. Even the great Apostle Paul knew he could not minister alone. 

The Apostle Paul never presumed to work for Jesus Christ alone or independent of other believer. Nor did he try to meet everyone’s needs nor did he try to fulfill everyone’s expectations. He knew full well his analogy that the church is a body and no one part can say to the other it is not needed. Read 1 Corinthians 12:14-27. 

Some of these in Paul’s list above were probably long old friends and some were new. Some were old and some were young, like Timothy. Paul had a team he utilized to share the Gospel, preach, teach and serve others. He put a great deal of trust in these people and rely deeply on them. Some, such as Timothy, Paul hoped would be able to visit him before his execution. Timothy was probably Paul’s most dependable co-worker as verse 9 seems to imply. 

Paul had a deep love and affection for Timothy as we see in 1 Corinthians 4:16-17,  “I urge you, then, be imitators of me. (17) That is why oI sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church” (ESV). We see in Paul’s letter to the Philippians how much Paul depended on Timothy. Look at Philippians 2:19-20, “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (20) For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare” (ESV).

It seems that Demas  previously had the reputation of sincerely being a faithful co-worker with Paul, but then he quit. Maybe Demas got distracted by all the other attractions around him. All of us have known people who were like co-workers with us at church, serving alongside us. And all of a sudden, they quit. They are gone. To me, this should serve as a warning to all of us how easily we can be lured away from serving the Lord. The temptations the world offers can be alluring and seem more pleasurable. After all, what is one the best ways the Devil can get back at God our Father? By getting us, God’s children, to quit on God. 

This reminded me of a true story I read about the Tournament Of Roses parade:

“One New Year's Day, in the Tournament of Roses parade, a beautiful float suddenly sputtered and quit. It was out of gas. The whole parade was held up until someone could get a can of gas. The amusing thing was this float represented the Standard Oil Company. With its vast oil resources, its truck was out of gas. Often, Christians neglect their spiritual maintenance, and though they are "clothed with power" (Luke 24:49) find themselves out of gas” (Source: Steve Blankenship, Edmond, Oklahoma. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 1).

Questions To Consider

  1. Who do you know that was once very involved in serving at your church and all of a sudden, they quit? Did you ever follow-up with them to discover why? Why or why not?
  2. Have you ever been involved in serving the Lord at your church and you quit? Why or why not?
  3. Paul said that Demas had deserted him. The Greek New Testament word Paul used is [ἐγκατέλειπεν, egkateleipen] and it means “to abandon, to forsake, to desert.” It is the same word used in the the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament in Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” It is the same word used by Jesus on the cross in Mark 15:34, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Instead of loving the Lord, Demas loved the world. What is it about the world that seems more appealing than serving alongside other co-workers for the glory of Jesus Christ?

Scripture To Meditate On: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. (17) For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! (18) So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (NLT).

Prayer To Pray: “Dear Jesus, give me insight to see Your invitations to serve You all around me — at church, at work, at my school, in my neighborhood, in the marketplace and etc. I do not want to do anything that would diminish Your purpose and will for my life. Please direct my steps, protect from my enemies so I do no quit on You, and use me to encourage someone who is discouraged or drawn by the world to stay committed in serving You. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”

I love your Southside — Pastor Kelly

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