Don’t Let Your Good Friend Down - Life Lessons From Demas

Day 2 of 5 • This day’s reading


Demas abandoned Paul in his time of need

Demas began well. Four or five years earlier, during the earlier imprisonment, Paul refers to Demas as a “fellow worker” in the gospel (Colossians 4:14, Philemon 1:24).

Paul is now writing in prison. He is chained up. He knows it’s near the end of his life. He says that everyone has abandoned and deserted him and now he’s at this point where he feels isolated and alone. His team has basically been broken up and spread out. The only one that is left is Luke, the physician. Lastly, he says, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”(2 Timothy 4:10)

That’s a pretty strong indictment. In one sentence, we have the person’s name, we have the fact that he was in love with this present world, and that he abandons his pastor, his missionary, his friend.

The Greek verb used in the original implies that Demas had not merely left Paul but had left him “in the lurch”; that is, Demas had abandoned Paul in a time of need.

The Greek word ‘forsaken’ (egkataleipo) means ‘to abandon, desert, leave in straits, leave helpless, leave in the lurch, let one down’ The apostle was in prison, facing a death sentence, and that’s when Demas chose to set sail. Undoubtedly, Paul was deeply let down by Demas. It’s never easy to see a friend and associate in whom you’ve placed your trust forsake you in the midst of hardship. Paul felt hurt and disappointed. 

Notice that he didn't say Demas has forsaken the Lord, even though he certainly had. He didn't say Demas had forsaken the work, which is what he said when John Mark abandoned him and Barnabas in Acts chapter 13. He said, "Demas has forsaken me." Paul didn't have many friends at that time in his life. Demas was one of the few he trusted and cared for. That must have meant a lot to a man locked up in prison for years. And Demas dumped him for the world's pleasures. As you read Paul's words, you don't hear anger or condemnation, but rather you hear disappointment, and maybe some heartbreak. 

No one likes it when a friend abandons you. Some might say that a situation like Demas' shouldn't hurt as much as other failed friendships, because he wasn't rejecting Paul, but God. Most Christians would say it will hurt more than other failed friendships, because not only do you lose a friend, you also know that your friend is choosing a bad path that's going to hurt him, and you hate to see a friend do that. You hurt for yourself, and you also hurt for your friend, because it's just a matter of time before he ends up a lot worse off than he used to be. You want God's best for that friend, and you can plainly see that he is not going to find God's best on the road he's on. It hurts.

Have you had a close friend in the past who abandoned you, just when you needed them? 

Quote: “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr.

Prayer: Lord I pray that You will help me not to let anyone down, especially those that love me.”