2 Timothy 4: 10: "For Demas forsook me, having loved this present world
and went to Thessalonica."
This sermon is about Demas who started good, but ended up bad.
His name is mentioned only three times in the New Testament.
In Paul's letter to Philemon, we read: "Demas and Luke, my fellow workers."(verse 24)
In this instance, Demas is mentioned because he and Luke had stood by Paul
when he was in prison.
A second mention of Demas is found in Paul's letter to the Colossians, where we read:
"Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas." (Colossians 4:14)
The third time we read about Demas is in our text for this sermon.
2 Timothy 4:10 says, "Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me
and gone to Thessalonica."
If one were to describe the life of Demas, there would be three points:
Demas my fellow worker.
Demas served with Luke.
Demas has deserted me".
He is now imprisoned in Rome and he believes that his death is not far off.
For that reason he summoned his friend Timothy for a visit.
It was an occasion for Paul to remember those who had meant a great deal to him.
It was also an occasion to note those who had left him.
Demas was one of those.
This imprisonment of Paul was a contrast to his first.
This time he was not in his own rented house.
He was in the terrible Mamertine prison.
This place was a miserable dungeon reserved for the condemned.
The prisoners there never knew when their sentence would be carried out.
This was Roman, "justice".
Paul's most immediate need was for fellowship with his friends.
He was tired and old and sick, and also lonely.
Time was running out for him, and he knew it.
This made the desertion of Demas even more painful.
Demas,Crescens, and Titus had all gone away.
Demas loved instead "this present world", and deserted Paul to enter
secular pursuits in Thessalonica.
He was a quitter.
When the pressure became too great, he deserted.
We ought to read of his experience with sympathy and compassion, for too often his experience is
also our experience.
Demas was a quitter.
We need to consider the matter of quitting.
There are times when we ought to quit.
When a person realizes that he is going in the wrong direction, he ought to quit.
The prodigal son in Luke 15 did this.
An unknown poet has said:
"The man who once most wisely said,
' Be sure you're right, then go ahead,'
Might well have added this, to wit,
'Be sure you're right before you quit."
When a person realizes that his actions and profession do not square up with his convictions,
he ought to quit.
After three years as a ministerial student in a denominational college,
a student said to a group of ministers:
"I believe in a God-called ministry; but I do not now believe that God has called me.
This being true, I cannot continue to as eighth ministerial student."
This young man had deep convictions, and he quit.
Now many years later, he is a successful businessman.
He is a consecrated and active layperson, and very supportive of his pastor and church.
There are times when we ought to quit, but we must be sure about it.
There are times when we think we have ample provocation to quit.
Sometimes, we are treated unjustly, and feel like giving in to our feelings and to just quit.
It is difficult to be impressed with the religion of those who withdrawal of their total support
from their church to indulge a personal resentment at someone.
They quit with a vengeance which grieves the Lord and delights the devil.
Sometimes, we feel we are too tired to go on, so we decide to quit.
Motivation is important!
A speaker who had been on the "Death March" off Bataan Peninsula in May, 1942,
in the second World War said, "You would be amazed how far you can go
after you're so tired you think you must quit, when you know that if you do,
you could get a bayonet through your back or a bullet through your head."
Elijah was exhausted, but God was patient with him until he regained his strength.
We should never make a major decision when we are physically exhausted
or mentally depressed.
Sometimes, we feel that our efforts are not appreciated, so we decide to quit.
We can be so quick to criticize, and so slow to express appreciation.
Many jobs that people do are necessary, but are altogether thankless.
Someone said that it takes a lot of butter to keep some people going.
You have to "butter them up" to keep them going.
We neglect those faithful, appreciation-starved workhorses who keeps on going, bruises,
saddle sores, and all.
And yet, if one of these faithful does quit, just a bit of kindness or a word of appreciation
may get him going again.
Sometimes the one on whom we depended, and others whom we counted on let us down,
and we want to quit.
A faithful pastor with 50 years experience said, "I have resigned only five times
in my whole ministry, and each time it was to go to another ministry."
"But," he said, "I must have resigned 47 times on Monday morning."
We could mention other provocations where quitters are numerous.
There have been times when God has used men who were tempted to quit,
but wouldn't, to bless the world.
Moses suffered like no other leader ever suffered.
At one point, he got down so low that he asked God,
"Have I conceived all these people?
Have I brought them forth, that thou shouldest say unto me, 'Carry them in thy bosom,
as a nursing-father carrieth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest
unto their fathers?"
(Numbers 11:12 ASV)
He even asked God to kill him if that was true, but he did not quit.
Samuel was thoroughly put out when the people demanded a king to reign over them.
But God said to him, "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me,
that I should not be king over them." (1 Samuel 8:7b ASV)
And Samuel did not quit!
Elijah got so depressed that he cried, "I am not better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4d ASV)
He pleaded with God that he was the only true follower left, and that he was a fugitive. (verse 14)
But Elijah did not quit!
Jeremiah was often attempted to quit.
He was called the "weeping prophet."
No other servant of God ever suffered more anguish of soul than Jeremiah.
He thought about quitting. (Jeremiah 9:2)
He tried to quit, but the "burning fire shut up in [his] bones" (20:9) would not allow it.
Jeremiah did not quit.
Someone once said of Columbus, "If Columbus had turned back, no one would have blamed him;
but no one would have remembered him."
But Columbus did not quit.
There are some great lessons to be learned from these people and others like them.
The margin between success and failure is often very thin.
Try one more time!
Maybe this time, you'll make it.
After many failures with an experiment, the great Edison's young assistant said,
"Just think Mr. Edison, all that work, and nothing to show for it."
Edison replied, "Don't say that for now we know 37 things that won't work."
Experiment number 38 did work!
Our mission is not for us to succeed, but to be faithful.
Perry F. Web Sr., said, "I would rather fail in a cause destined ultimately to win,
than to succeed in a cause best and ultimately to fail."
So would all of the faithful of God.
God will use dedicated failures, as well as glowing successes.
By ever test that the world knows, Jeremiah was a failure.
He never carried anything through to victory.
But he was true to God.
And when God's Son walked this earth in the body of our flesh there were men who said of Him,
"This is Jeremiah."
No prophet was ever more honored than Jeremiah
Consider these questions:
" What if a person has quit?"
" What does he do?"
" What can he do?"
He can begin again.
He can asked God to forgive him, and get back into faithful service, and move on.
John Mark quit, but we also know that he began again.
Barnabas was right in insisting that John Mark be given a another chance.
What about Demas?
Dr. Barclay has this to say about Demas.
Demas is the shortened form of Demetrius.
In 3 John 2 we read, "Demitrius hath the witness of all men, and of the truth itself:
yea, we also bear witness; and thou knowest our witness is true."
It is heartwarming to know that "quitter" was not the final verdict in the life of Demas.
Quitting is something of which all of us are familiar.
That is something that has happened to many in our churches.
They started with us, but somewhere along the way, they quit.
That is a problem for many who love this present age.
I have known many who made a new year's resolution to attend church services
every Sunday, but they quit.
"When things go wrong,
As they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile,
But you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must,
But Don't You Quit!
Life is strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up through the pace seems slow
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem the worst
That You Mustn't Quit!"
-- Source Unknown
Let us follow Paul's example.
Paul faced many kinds of failure, but he was never a failure.
II Timothy contains his epitaph: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith."
That is what I want my witness to be.
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White