Perhaps one of the most painful experiences in ministry is when you have invested time, perhaps years, love and resources into someone and they leave everything you tried to teach them for a worthless future. This was Paul’s experience. Right at the very end of his life, Paul reviews for Timothy so many who had been part of his ministry and gives a glimpse into his heart for them.
“Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica” (2 Timothy 4:10).
What brought about this change with Demas? Knowing Paul’s influence on others and his love for them, we could hardly imagine that he treated Demas any differently. Was there a cultural pull at Thessalonica that this young man could not resist? All we know about the city is that it was a major seaport and the Via Egnatia travel route went through it. Whatever the allurement, Demas did not have the spiritual constitution to withstand the worldly attraction and fell in love with it.
One thing we do know is that his desertion of Paul was a great sorrow and loss. From personal experience, this happens to anyone who invests in the next generation. At some point in our ministry of developing leaders, someone will drop out. Paul is not recounting this to make us give up on others because desertion will happen. He is preparing our hearts so that when it happens we will realize that our reward still comes from the Lord (4:8) who measures every investment perfectly. So I say to you and me, never stop investing in the spiritual maturity of others!
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