“Does my example as a believer wean people away from love of the world, or does it increase their attachment to it?”
In 2 Timothy 4:10 we read:“For Demas, who has fallen in love with this present world, has deserted me/left me in a lurch/forsaken me/abandoned me and gone [from Rome]to Thessalonica….”
Demas had at one time been Paul’s assistant in the ministry (Philemon 24). Here was a man who along with Luke greeted the church at Colossae, and now has his affections elsewhere, willfully abandoning Paul. Apparently Demas decided to desert Paul when the going got tough. Likely Demas was ashamed to be associated with a prisoner on death-row, and perhaps even fearful for his own life. Paul’s life had been a shining example of “being dead to this world” and so he expresses great pain when he tells us that Demas’ actions pursued his affections of love for this world. It was to this world with negative connotations that Demas had attached his heart.
Being overly attached to places, people and possessions is the ever-present danger of all believers, and an effective way that Satan attempts to neutralize our witness. What do the Scriptures say about this ever-present danger?
What might being in “love with this present world” look like?
1. Loving the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43).
2. Having our minds set on earthly things more than above (Col 3:2).
3. Investing more in treasures on earth than in heaven (Matt 6:19-21; Matt 13:22).
4. Succumbing to the things which appeal to the eye and to the flesh, and which constitute pride in the things of life (I John 2:15-16).
5. In response to the question “who is my mother and who are my brothers” one would look first to their biological connections (Matthew 12:48-50).
6. Being shaped and moulded by this present age, more than being transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1-2).
7. Avoiding taking up the cross daily(Luke 9:23; Romans 8:13).
8. Limping between two opinions and attempting to serve two masters ( 1 Kings 18:21; Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13).
9. Being ashamed of Jesus and his word when in public places as an attempt to blend into an “adulterous and sinful generation” (Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26).
10. Wanting to look good to others and refusing to be persecuted for the cross of Christ (Galatians 6:12).
11. Tolerating teachings that make it easier to blend in with society and to ‘fly under the radar’ when it comes to showing allegiance ( Rev. 2:5, 14-15).
12. To set ones hopes on their present assets, whether position, wealth, health or status(I Tim 6:17).
13. To live in a way that expresses disbelief in God’s promises for today and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:5; Gen 28:15).
14. Letting one’s longing for the appearance of Christ be eclipsed by the cares, comforts and curiosities of this life (2 Tim 4:8).
15. To live in a way that expresses that one is ashamed to count brothers and sisters in Christ as such, especially when this could cause aspersion to one’s own name (e.g. Demas, 2 Tim 4:10).
16. To live in a way that one is no longer an alien and a stranger in this world (Hebrews 11: 8-16 ; I Peter 2:11-12, Gen 23:4).
17. To lose the effect of one’s ‘saltiness’ in this world, and to have the light of the Gospel diminished (Matthew 5:15-16).
18. To think in terms of worldly wisdom, rather than the wisdom which is from above (James 3:15)
Recall that C.S. Lewis once quipped that “those who are most effective as ambassadors for Christ in this world, are those who are least attached to it.” We saw this with Paul who considered “everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”
As believers we must continually ask ourselves, “Does my example as a Christian wean people away from love of the world, or does it increase their attachment to it?”
I for one am convicted by this question… and, inevitably, my friends, like it or not, we will be judged by the answer.