2 Timothy 4:10
Being a native of the South I have heard a lot of country and Western music, and much of it is filled
with a sad songs of someone who loved and left.
There is something that hurts and saddens someone who had vowed allegiance and love instead leaves,
forsaking the one to whom he had pledged his life.
If there is sadness when a lover leaves or a father forsakes, it is much sadder it is when a disciple defects.
The very nature of discipleship indicates that one would follow Jesus to the very end.
Of all of God's creation, man should have the best view of time.
It is man who should be able to measure his lifespan against the impact of eternity.
For man is the only one of God's creation was able to reason, to remember, and to apply
with logical reasoning, the things that he has remembered.
To man alone lies the responsibility of some grasp of infinitude.
Man alone can measure his life, not by what happens now, but by eternity.
But even with this mark of superiority over the animals, we have been slow to use it.
Too often we look at our lives only in the present situation, not against the backdrop of eternity.
Too often we fail to think of the ultimate outcome of an action, but think only of its present implications.
Living for the present, we never build for the future.
We get our food in disposable containers.
We use throwaway ballpoint pens to write, and disposable razors to shave.
We diaper our baby's in disposable diapers.
We design our consumer products with built-in obsolescence.
And we go to school in temporary buildings.
Europeans have criticized us for building only for the present.
They say that the buildings we construct in our cities are not designed for centuries, and they are right.
But the same can be said for our lives.
We live only for the present.
I think that is the significance of one rather haunting verse the closing words of 2 Timothy 4:10:
"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world."
That verse should disturb us.
Paul asked his young preacher friend, Timothy, to come to him quickly.
The scene is most probably a prison in Rome.
This is possibly the second imprisonment for Paul.
This time there is not a private house as it was in the first imprisonment.
In all probability it is a dark, damp, and cold prison cell.
Paul asked for his coat and his books.
He told about all those who had left him while he was imprisoned.
He was left alone with only his physician, Luke.
So this now old, persecuted preacher called for his young son in the ministry.
But did you notice?
Of all those whom he mentioned who had left, probably five or six, only for one person did he have a word
of implied condemnation, and that was Demas.
Demas is mentioned only three times in the Scriptures.
The first mention is in the book of Philemon where he is mentioned as a fellow laborer.
The second is in Colossians that Paul related that Demas joined in his greeting to the Christians at Closse.
Then here in 2 Timothy there is an air of sadness when Paul wrote, "Demas hath forsaken me"
We are not given a specific reason for the departure of Demas.
Some think that it was because of a lack of courage.
Others think that it was because of a love of money and gain.
Others think that he just preferred the comfort and security away from Rome and away
from the hardship and danger in Rome with Paul.
But we don't have to guess why Demas left Paul.
The Scripture passages clearly says: "Having loved the present world."
Like so many of us, Demas was living for the present.
To live for the present, you do not have to renounce your Christian faith.
You can just prefer the comfort and security of an action that benefits for the moment,
and leave a place of responsibility or leave a task undone.
Living for the present, some defect from discipleship why?
Some are seeking the thrills in life.
One of the ways in which Christian people defect from discipleship of living in the present
is by seeking the thrills in life.
With this all of life is lived for the thrill of the moment.
The pursuit of pleasure results in the spending of millions of dollars, and the expending
of great amounts of energy and time.
One convention leader once said, "People are looking for new nerve endings to excite."
In this pursuit for pleasure things that are lasting are overlooked.
Seeking momentary thrills, the lasting is forsaken.
Some years ago, a 27-year-old man was convicted of three brutal robbery-slayings in Islip, New York.
He indicated that he got a thrill out of killing.
When asked how he spent the money, he said that he had spent one third on women,
one third on liquor, and one third on foolish things.
In seeking the thrill in life, he had followed deadly, destructive ways.
It is a sad commentary on our society and on our discipleship to say that the most important thing
is that which produces a momentary thrill.
That is the reason there is no more joy in spite of all the attempts at pleasure.
No proof has to be given to prove that many feel trapped in a sense of futility.
I have heard "the rat race" of life being said often.
Alcoholism and drug addiction or ways of life for many people as they attempt to insulate
themselves against life.
Irresponsibility is so evident in many lives.
Absenteeism becomes a major problem in many industrial concerns.
There is a search for a center in life, something about which life can be built.
Seeking the thrill where there is no joy and satisfaction has caused many people to leave the very thing
that can always bring them back to the center, and that is a vibrant, faith in Jesus Christ.
Some years ago missionaries on the beach of a South Sea Island.
When they landed on the beach, they began to collect driftwood for a fire.
They noticed a group of chimpanzees who were gathering up branches and arranging them
as though they were going to have a fire.
Then they warmed their hands and their feet at the pile of wood.
But there was no fire!
Too often we have gone through the motions of expecting great things from God,
but we have lacked the fire of God's Holy Spirit in our actions.
This is so futile!
When one seeks only the thrill in life, this is what happens.
There is no fire!
There is no depth.
There is no victory!
Life takes on a certain hopelessness, and there is a defection from the only One
who can give meaning and direction to life.
Emphasizing the trivial in life.
When a person lives for the present, he is emphasizing the trivial in life.
We constantly battle against the problem of the good overcoming the best.
There are many things that might be good in themselves, but God has called us to the best.
In his book, "Why Not The Best?" Jimmy Carter tells of his application
for the Navy nuclear submarine program.
In an interview with Adam Hyman Rickover, Carter sat in a large room with Rickover for more than two hours.
Rickover let him choose the subjects they would discuss.
So Carter chose those things about which he knew the most.
Things like current events, seamanship, music, literature, naval tactics, electronics, and gunnery.
Then Rickover began to ask him a series of questions of increasing difficulty.
In each instance, he soon proved to Carter that he did not know so much about the subject as he thought he did.
Always looking him right in the eye, he never smiled, Carter was soon saturated with sweat.
Finally, he asked a question Carter thought could help him redeem himself.
He asked Carter how he ranked in his class at the Naval Academy.
He had done very well, and his chest swelled with pride when he replied that he stood 59th in a class of 820.
Instead of congratulating him, Rickover asked him one more question.
He asked him if he had done his best.
Before answering that he had, Carter remember those times when he could have learned more
about the allies, the enemies, weapons, strategy, and maybe many other subjects.
So he replied that he had not always done his best.
Rickover looked at him a long time, then turned his chair around to end the interview.
He asked one final question, which Carter could neither answer nor forget.
That question was, "Why not?"
And why have we done our best for God?
Perhaps, it is because we have emphasized the trivial so much in life that we have unobscured the best.
Arguing about and concerned over the trivial, we have never really gotten around to following Jesus
in obedient, decisive discipleship.
A seminary president once said that if the church suffered from any ailment, it was that of triviality.
So much of church programming, activity, budgeting, and the expenditure of energy is that
for which is, in the end, trivial.
How things are done seems many times to take precedence over what things are done in the name of Christ.
Convenience is put over consistency.
Expediency becomes the word that governs our life.
Rather than searching our actions for consistency with the principles of Christ, we do those things
that are most convenient for us.
I read about a pastor telling how early in his ministry that he was faced with a particular church problem
that worried and bothered him.
He tried and tried to figure out the right solution.
But he was faced with the problem of possibly offending some of the church with the decision.
So he went to one of his college professors, and told him of his problem.
The professor did not tell him what to do.
But it did give him a principle in making that decision when he said, "You will have to decide whether
you will follow that which is expedient or you will follow your convictions."
It boils down to where we place our love.
The love we have for Christ must be more compelling than our love for the world.
Whatever would crowd out Christ, and draw us away from Him would fit into the definition of the world.
Christ is to be loved supremely.
Forgetting the eternal in life.
It needs to be said that the disciple who lives for the present is forgetting the eternal.
Life is not only lived in the present, but life is also lived in the eternal.
The tragedy of living for the present is that the future results do not seem to concern the individual.
Actions truly have future results.
In forgetting the eternal, we also forget that destiny is determined by decision.
The eternal destiny of the individual is determined by the decision that he makes
to accept or reject Jesus Christ as personal Saviour.
There is one very important thing that must be remembered about Demas and any other disciple that defects.
Even though they have defected the door is always open to come back.
Christ will forgive as one confesses and forsakes his sin and returns.
Many have known what it was to be in the far country, and do as the prodigal Son said:
"I want to come home. I want to come back."
And God has said, "Come home."
Sometime ago I read of a father who had suffered deep grief because his son had left home
in a rebellious attitude to join a group of young people in a commune.
Although the father had asked the authorities to help him in locating his son, the search was unsuccessful.
It was determined though, that the son was in a certain major city.
The father went to the city, made a list of all places frequented by young people
who shared the lifestyle of his son.
Following this list, the father took his own portrait to a studio and had many prints made.
He rolled across each picture: "All is forgiven. I love you. Come home. Dad."
Then he went to each of the bars and the dives on his list and added his picture to those hanging on the walls,
after asking permission to do so.
Then the father returned home.
The son came into a bar, and was stunned to see his father's picture and message.
It touched his heart.
He felt a flood of sorrow that swept over him for the suffering he had caused his father.
So his son got on a bus and went home.
You can go home again!
God is waiting for you!
"Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
calling for you and for me;
see, on the portals he's waiting and watching,
watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home;
ye who are weary come home;
earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home!
Why should we tary when Jesus is pleading,
pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,
mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
passing from you and from me;
shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
coming for you and for me.
O for the wonderful love he has promised,
promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon,
pardon for you and for me.
Come home, come home;
ye who are weary come home;
earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home!"
By Will L. Thompson
Semon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White