(2Tim.4:10; Col.4:14; Philemon 24)
I made a friend of an old elder in a distant congregation many years ago. I really enjoyed his faith and wisdom. Because of distance, I could only visit face to face with him every few years. On one visit I asked him why he was no longer an elder. Unable to contain his sadness, and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Because my son has forsaken the Lord and broken up his family.”The apostle Paul, when writing from his first imprisonment in Rome, included greetings from Aristarchus, Mark, Luke, Epaphras and Demas. Men who stood by him during his persecutions. His fellow-workers in Christ who brought him joy and encouragement. Years later, he was again in prison but this time expecting to be executed. He wrote to Timothy and speaks of his fellow-workers. He is feeling deserted by everyone, but notes that the others are about the Lord’s work in other places (2Tim.4).However, his comment about Demas is not good. He writes: “For Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica” (2Tim.4:9). I too would like to give Demas the benefit of the doubt and believe that he, fearing the persecutions that surrounded Paul, went to work at his home-church in Thessalonica. But Paul’s words: “Because he loved the world,” indicates a deeper problem. Demas had not only forsaken the ministry with Paul in Rome, he had forsaken the Lord. He had returned to the world.Paul longed for Christ’s second coming, and Demas once did, too. But he exchanged Christ for the longings of this world (2Tim.4:8). My old elder friend has long since gone on to his reward. I never did meet his son. But I was visiting a congregation one Sunday and heard his named being called. Each time I have retold the scene I saw that day I have had tears of my own. The man I saw walking to the front, was going to lead the church in prayer. He was now a deacon. My friend had lived long enough to see his own ‘prodigal son’ come home to his Heavenly Father and be restored to his family—Praise God! Glory Hallelujah!