by Joe Collingsworth
2 Timothy 4:6-11 – For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
Someone once told me, “The ministry is all about people.” I could not agree more, but the devil is a master of taking what we have done to help others and using it to hurt us.
That is how the devil will try to hurt every church. He will try to hurt us with the very ones to whom we have ministered. These are people in our churches, people in our homes, people in whom we have invested, and our friends and family. He uses people (similar to the son in Luke 15) who demand their inheritance, and then they forsake the father’s house for the far country.
Anyone who has been in ministry for any length of time knows about the exact types of situations to which I am referring. We have all experienced it! We have felt the discouragement, disappointment, and hurt.
I believe that this is a reason why God has preserved such stories in the Bible. I believe that this is a reason why, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul penned these words. God wants to guide us through those valleys and help us in our moments of difficulty.
In this text we find Paul’s farewell letter to Timothy. It is in this letter that Paul gives Timothy some instruction for and insight to the ministry. Of course, we know that Paul tells Timothy in this same chapter to Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. (vs. 2) He tells Timothy to fight as he himself had fought and to endure affliction. He tells Timothy that a time will come when people will turn their ears from the truth. These are the people to whom he will minister, people in his church, and people he will love and for whom he will pray.
If we were to go back to the previous chapter, we would find that it is in this same letter that he encourages Timothy to …continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (II Timothy 3:14)
Paul knew what Timothy would soon endure. He reminded Timothy of the investment that he had made in his life. He reminded him of his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois and of their sacrifices for his sake.
However, it is interesting that as Paul starts to pen the last few words in this letter to Timothy, he chooses to write, For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world,…
Let us all consider this question: “Have I ever been there before?” It breaks our hearts. We feel abandoned and helpless. We feel as if we have failed. We have been forsaken.
I have grown up in church all of my life. I have seen the hurt that prodigals cause their parents and their pastor. I have seen the effects that it can have on their peers. I have heard discouraged men and women, much older than I, talk about how they feel as if they have been abandoned by the next generation. Sadly, their reasoning is justified.
Sometimes our elders feel as though we have forgotten their sacrifice. They feel that they have given their all only to look on helplessly as the future leaves them behind on the battlefield, all alone.
They have wept for my generation and the generation to follow. They have fought a good fight; they have run their race, but now they are wondering, “Was it worth it?” They have sacrificed much, and yet, they’ve been hurt and disappointed. “Demas” has forsaken them, having loved this present world.
I want share something that was a great comfort to me that I believe will be a great comfort to all of us. Paul said, For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. This powerful truth is so subtle, yet so powerful, that I pray we will not miss it! It is found right there between that semicolon and the name Crescens. What is found there can be summed up in three simple words: BUT NOT FORGOTTEN.
As Paul gets to the end of his life, he gives Timothy the greatest lesson there is for those in the ministry. He says to Timothy in not so many words, “I have been forsaken, but I have not been forgotten!”
He testifies that Crescens is doing the work of the Lord in Galatia, Titus is serving the Lord in Dalmatia, and Tychicus is spreading the gospel in Ephesus.
Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. He asks him to retrieve his …cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. (vs. 13)
Then in verse 19 he tells him, Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. He continues in verse 21, Do thy diligence to come before winter…, and then he gives encouragement himself by passing on the greetings from other servants who were still serving: Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.
His words as a whole say to Timothy, “I want you to know that I may have been forsaken, but I have not been forgotten!”
Let us be encouraged by looking around the next time we are at church. What will we see? I know we will see the pew on which Demas use to sit, but we will also see a Titus and a Timothy serving along our sides in the ministry. We will see people who have not forgotten about our sacrifices.
These Christians who remain to serve with us are those who have seen people forsake us, but they did not forget us. They have seen our hurt, but they have stayed to help. They have seen others fail us, but they have chosen to be faithful to us. Although not perfect, they are trying to make us proud. Maybe they have stumbled along the way, but they are still in the fight.
Please listen to me. We may have been forsaken, but we have not been forgotten! Allow me to share a few thoughts on this subject.
Don’t Let Demas Distract You!
Warren Buffett once said, “The most dangerous distractions are the ones you love the most, but don’t love you back.”
Our love is revealed through actions. For example, when a mom and dad tell their children they love them, they prove that proclamation by going out and providing for them. Likewise, a children prove their love by being obedient and submissive to their parents.
The father in Luke 15 is an example of someone who did not let Demas distract him. He did not let his wayward son whom he loved deeply keep him from being what he needed to be at home.
Judas forsook Jesus, but Jesus did not let that distract Him from His purpose. It was because Jesus loved Judas and because He loved you that He kept Himself focused on the cross.
We cannot allow those who forsake us to distract us. That is what the devil wants. The devil wants to distract us from the work that God has called us to do. He wants to distract us from being the parents, spouses, and Christians that we need to be. He wants to distract us so that he can defeat us.
The devil wants us to be so focused on the ones who forsook us for the far country that we forsake the ones at the Father’s house.
Yes, there will be those who will forsake us because of their love for this world, but there will also be those who will never forget us because of our love for the Word!
Let us each ask ourselves, “From what has the devil distracted me? Have I been kept from soulwinning? How is my church attendance? Have I become bitter?” Paul had been forsaken, but Timothy and Titus, among others, needed him. We must not let Demas distract us from all of those who need our faithfulness.
Pass on Paul’s Principles
Paul tells Timothy in verse 5, But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Paul had run his race and finished his course, but Paul wanted to see Timothy succeed. That is why he told Timothy to continue in the things which he had learned. Timothy was not taught to be a liberal theologian, to flirt with this world, or to water down the Gospel. Paul told him to pass on the principles that he had been given. We could say it this way: Timothy needed to practice what Paul preached.
Let us each ask ourselves, “Have I forsaken what the Paul in my life taught me? Have I forsaken soulwinning? Have I forsaken separation? Have I forsaken biblical standards? Have I forsaken the inspiration and preservation of the Scriptures? Have I forsaken my Saviour?”
Paul’s principles came from the Word of God and not his personal opinion. Just as he preached this, so should we! Some might have forsaken these biblical principles, but we must never forget them. That is what we need to pass on to a new generation.
Take the Time to Thank Timothy
II Timothy 1:1-3 – Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
I must ask a very serious question. When is the last time we went to those who have not forgotten us and have thanked them for not wasting our investments? I know we like to tell our young people they need to be thankful for what we have done, and they should. However, when was the last time we went to the son that stayed at the Father’s house and did not forsake us for the far country to thank them for being faithful?
When was the last time we went to our sons or daughters or our nieces or nephews to tell them that we are proud of them? When did we last praise them for not quitting, show our gratitude for them taking a stand and not giving into temptation, and thank them for not giving into the world or to their peers? Have we expressed how proud we were that, although they had fallen, they asked for forgiveness? Have we thanked our friends for sticking in there and for standing with us in the good times and the bad?
If we are being honest, many times we never get out of the clouds of discouragement because we continue to focus on Demas. We forget to look at Timothy and to thank him for being loyal.
My friends, we do ourselves a great disservice when we forsake those who have not forgotten us, those who stayed, and those who labored with us in the field. They could have forsaken us, but they chose not to forget us.
Jesus knew what it was like to be forsaken, but we can rejoice that Jesus never forgot about us! Regardless of who we are or what we are going through, let us be encouraged with this thought: