Christian service, though filled with joy, it’s not for the faint of heart. Those who serve the Lord in the local church in any capacity will walk through days of trial and will battle discouragement. Some, like Paul, are called to persist through persecution. Many great men and women of God went through hard times in their service for Him.
Amid these challenges, there will always be the temptation to take our eyes off Jesus, and focus on ourselves and our situation. If we are not careful, those hard times can drive us away from Christ, instead of pulling us closer to Him, the one who seeks to bring us through these things with a stronger faith.
In fact, Timothy was given a reminder from Paul in the first chapter of 2 Timothy. “Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6) He wanted Timothy to rekindle the gift, press on with enthusiasm, keep serving with zeal!
No doubt, Demas was on his mind when Paul penned this first chapter, not wanting his son in the faith to go down the same path, to pull back, or to give up.
In the book of Philemon Demas is described as a fellow laborer. “There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers.” (Philemon 23) In Colossians, He is seen again with Paul. “Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.” (Colossians 4:14) Demas was a fellow laborer and companion to Paul anywhere from 3-7 years.
However many years they labored together, something changed. In 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul says, “Demas hath forsaken me,” giving the reason, “having loved this present world.” No doubt this contrasts with Paul’s earlier statement in 4:8 talking about the crown that is laid up for all those who “love his appearing.”
As many have stated, this does not mean that Demas was not a saved man. Perhaps the turbulent life of accompanying Paul, the tribulations, and persecutions got to Demas, and he wanted to revert to a normal life. The Christian life of service is not easy, in fact getting involved in the Lords work will be hard, it will bring challenges and we will often need to fight off discouragement.
How important it is, in hard times for us to keep the mindset of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:8, that we would “love his appearing” more than “this present world!” Whatever his reasons, Demas left Paul behind having a love for this present world that was greater than his love for the Lord’s work.
Perhaps, all Demas wanted was a life of “normal,” to follow God, but take part in the comforts of this present world.
So many Christians, like Demas, will pull back from their service for God, or not really get involved at all. Not willing to give, or to sacrifice the present comforts of this world to gain the rewards of the life to come.
How often we need to be reminded of the words of Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
On the flip side of this is the perspective of those who along the way of Christian service lose faithful companions in the Lords work to the love of the world. You can just imagine the pain Paul must have felt when Demas told him he would be leaving. At Paul’s hour of great need, Demas left.
In our Christian experience, we too will have to weather through times when Christian companions will leave the work, because of a love for this present world. The temptation would be to write these people off, and the danger is that we would begin to grow bitter against them.
But consider our Savior. He prayed for those he knew would abandon him for a time. The Demas’ of this life are people we need to pray for. Pray that once again their love for Christ, his church and his people would reign supreme! That they would once again count the sufferings of Christian service not worthy to be compared to the eternal weight of glory!
“Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 17)
I can’t think of a better example than Robert Robinson. After wandering astray for a time, God would use the forgotten words of his own son to bring his wandering heart back to God! Robinson would declare:
“O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.”
As we journey through this life, let us strive to keep our eyes on Christ, ever growing in our love for him, staying faithful to him, and to our fellow laborers in his work! Helen Lemmel gives has given us timeless advice.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.”