Failure In The Ranks

II Timothy 4:9-12 “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. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.”

I John 2:15 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

The Apostle Paul is getting ready to finish his earthly race and pass the responsibilities of the work on to his fellow-laborers. While writing his final correspondence, the senior saint calls for a young comrade, named Timothy. In drawing his letter to close, Paul takes inventory of those that have shared in the work; in doing so, his heart is smitten as he identities failure in the ranks; “Demas hath forsaken me.” There is now a gap that makes up the hedge as a deserter is discovered in the ranks!

In consideration of this thought, failure in the ranks; there are three things that call for our attention. The first thing that I notice is Demas’ Departure, “Demas . . . is departed unto Thessalonica.” Unlike others listed in the ranks; Demas’ departure was not for the purpose of advancing the work. The movement of Timothy, John Mark, Crescens, and Luke were determined by where they could best serve the work of God; not so with Demas! Demas’ departure was not that of a novice; he was an established servant in the work. On at least two occasions Paul lists Demas among the ranks and refers to him as one of “my fellowlabourers” (Philemon 24). Demas’s departure was not that of the needless; “hath forsken me.” Paul considered Demas to be a valuable asset to the ministry and to “me.” Paul put Demas in the same category as John Mark; “for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” The word “profitable” means useful, easily used, or meet for use. Paul is declaring the Demas would be missed!

The second thing that I notice is Demas’s Distraction, “having loved this present world.” Demas saw more value in living in the world than he did in laboring in the work. Demas was distracted by temporal pleasures of the present age that had the ability to gratify the appetites of the natural man while starving the spiritual. Demas chose to feed his flesh with the trinkets of the world rather than fortify his faith with the truth of the Word. Demas found himself in a social and moral love affair with the world.

Lastly, we notice Demas’ Deliverance; the same activity that brought about his demise would serve as his deliverance; “the love of the Father” (I John 2:15).  John’s admonishment in I John 2:15, uses two different Greek words for love. While a social and moral love for the world would distract Demas, an affectionate love-feast or feast of charity for the Father would deliver him. Demas’ problem was not his relationship to the world, but rather his relationship with God that revealed his relationship to the world! Changing his relationship with the world would not necessarily change his relationship with God, but changing his relationship with God would change his relationship with the world. When asked which is the greatest of all the commandments, Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).

Demas did not depart because he was immature in the faith and had nothing to offer. He departed because he left his “first love” and his deliverance is simply to return. May your name not be synonymous with failure in the ranks!