|At the end of Pauls letters he always enclosed some personal greetings. The end of his second letter to Timothy is no different. I would like to focus on a couple of the people. 2 Timothy 4:10; “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” Demas was a long time companion of Paul and a worker in the ministry. This letter was written in approximately 67A.D. We see mention of Demas working with Paul as early as 60A.D. Colossians 4:14; “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, as does Demas.”
This makes me want to ask a question. What happened to Demas that he turned away? Paul says he loved this present world. He was seduced away by what this world has to offer. This is not what we, as Christians, are called to. Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:17; “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
It is so important that we fix our eyes on God. We need to remember that we are only visitors in this world and it truly has nothing for us. Demas was working in the ministry for years and when Paul needed to depend on him, he deserted. Demas forgot to fix his eyes on God and instead fixed them on this world. Very little is written of Demas, but he has this lasting legacy: "For Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me"
Now, let's look at another person in Paul's life. 2 Timothy 4:11; “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” This is a complete reversal of position for Mark. He is first introduced to us as the young man who is deserting Paul on his first missionary journey. Acts 13:13; “Now, Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamhylia, but John(Mark) left them and returned to Jerusalem.”
No reason is given for Mark leaving, but whatever the reason, it upset Paul to the point that he would not take him the next time, and caused the split between Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37-39). We are not given insight into what happened to turn Mark around, but we know that he did. This is the same Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark. Mark is one of those examples in the Bible that give us all hope. It is not how we start, it is how we finish. We can be transformed. In Romans 12:2 we read “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
John Mark had the opportunity to choose the world. He had already deserted the work once. Paul and Barnabas were fighting over including him. It would have been so easy for him to say "I don't need this" and completely walk away. But he didn't. Mark was not conformed to this world, he was transformed from a deserter to one who was useful for service. Within each of us is the choice to be a Demas or a Mark. We make the choice by what we choose to focus on. Do we focus on this world and the temporary, light afflictions? Or, do we focus on God and adopt an eternal perspective? The choice is yours. Do you desert, or are you useful for service?
Remember God loves you and I do too. Roger Gean.