We hear of grandiose catastrophes, such as missionaries who, despite many years of preparation, choose adultery at the expense of their family and ministry. We hear of husbands who succumb to the allure of money, forsaking everything else. And we hear of individuals like Demas, who opt for the pleasures of this age even after walking alongside Paul! And we think, ”That would never be me!” But James reminds us that we should not be so hasty in our judgments.
“For Demas, having loved this present age, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” — 2 Timothy 4:10
I believe that out of the 31,102 verses in Scripture, there is none more sobering and terrifying than 2 Timothy 4:10. This quick, often overlooked comment is found in between names and greetings at the end of the last chapter of the last book written by the apostle Paul. But it should cause us to stop and ponder. There we find a reality more dreadful than hell itself. The mere thought of it should cause every genuine believer to tremble in fear and consider anew the state of their soul before the living God.
2 Timothy 4:10 teaches us that we can spend our entire life fooling everyone, including ourselves, but it also teaches us that God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7).
The text is short and simple: “For Demas, having loved this present age, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica…” The passage moves on quickly—we should not.
Demas was one of Paul’s fellow laborers in the faith. We don’t know how long the two worked together, but we know that he was dear enough for Paul to remember him while in prison. At the end of the book of Colossians, Paul couples Demas with people like Luke, the beloved physician (4:14); in his only letter to Philemon, among all the people he could have included, he mentions Mark, Luke and…Demas (1:23). Demas was Paul’s companion and fellow worker. He travelled, fasted, preached, and risked his life alongside Paul for the advancement of the Gospel. He was not ashamed!
But…what happened? Paul says that he “loved this present age.” Demas grew fond affections for this world. He forgot that the days are evil and stopped searching his heart. He stopped redeeming the time, stopped considering the end, and stopped beholding the beauty of Christ. As the pilgrimage brought him to the Hill Lucre, he became captivated by the silver mine and decided to dig in it for treasure of little pain, and in so doing, he forsook the real treasure—his soul.1
All Scripture is Profitable
Epistolary conclusions like this passage don’t usually play a big role in our devotionals. Maybe we find them a bit more enticing than genealogies, but only because they’re not as long and unfamiliar.
We see the names and greetings at the end of the epistles and ask, “Why would I need to pay attention to that?” We often think, if only subconsciously, “I know it’s the Word of God, but I’m sure that Paul has already concluded the thrust of his argument. Surely there’s nothing else for me here.”
However, let’s think about it for a minute. I said it in passing, but do we really believe that the Bible is the very Word of God? If we skip past epistolary conclusions and genealogies, are we confident that God wrote every single word contained in Scripture?
Well, true Christians do not just believe this truth, they are willing to die for it. Why? Because it is more precious than anything this world has to offer.
In His Word, God has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). In it we find the very mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Its every word will stand forever, and all of it—even its smallest letters and strokes—was literally breathed-out by God.
The Bible is the product of the infinitely wise mind of the eternal God, and therefore every single word of it is profitable for reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). Every single word, including the greetings at the end of the book that no one cares about.
The problem is that we are propelled by our hearts to do everything for ourselves. It’s all about me—what serves me and how I can use it for my own benefit and glory. This is dangerous in every area of life, but especially when we come before God. Our task-oriented, pragmatic disposition results in lacking a true desire to be with God.
We kid ourselves in thinking that we have done our dues by checking off the box, spending ten minutes reading a few verses in the Old Testament and a couple of paragraphs in the New Testament.