2 Timothy 4:9-11
Do your diligence to come shortly to me:…
In the long line of the Doges, in the grand old palace in Venice, one space is empty, and the black curtain which covers it attracts more attention than any one of the fine portraits of the merchant kings. From that panel, now so unsightly, once smiled the sallow face of Marine Falieri, afterwards found guilty of treason against the state, and blotted out, so far as might be, from remembrance. The text reveals the fate of one who had filled a much more honoured place, and who, yielding to temptation, sank to still lower depths. Poor, foolish Demas has gained for himself a most unenviable notoriety. Once he was not only a Church-member, but he was accounted as no ordinary man among his brethren. Twice in the friendly salutations with which St. Paul usually closes his epistles he mentions Demas with honour (Philemon 1:24; Colossians 4:14). Two years later he wrote in sorrow of heart, "Demas hath forsaken me," etc. It was neither cowardice nor self-indulgence which had caused his ruin, but simply the love of the world; the very danger to which so many are exposed in our own day, when the beguiling blandishments of sin, rather than the terrors of persecution, are the devil's most successful devices. There is no shadow of a reason to suppose that Demas had not devoted himself at the outset in downright sincerity and earnestness to God's service; but his weakness was such as might prove the ruin of any one who does not keep every avenue to his heart diligently guarded, lest an inordinate love of temporal things force an entrance there. It is recorded of the King of Navarre, then claiming to be a good Protestant, that being urged by Beza to behave himself in a more manly way for the cause of God, he made answer, that he was "really the friend of the reformers, but that he was resolved to put out no further to sea than he might get safely back to shore in case a storm should unexpectedly arise." In other words, he would not hazard his hopes of the crown of France for the sake of his religion. You know the sequel of his story. Like Demas, he loved "this present world "better than he loved God. He proved a traitor to his religion, and bartered his heavenly crown for a fading one of earth. Some years ago, a young woman was hanged in England for murder, who had been tempted to commit the awful deed for the sake of a five pound note, and this note proved to be a counterfeit! To run such a risk, and to receive such bitter wages! Do those people fare better than this wretched woman who desert God's service for the world's poor bribes? Can the possession of hoards of wealth, or the fading memories of past enjoyments, bring peace in a dying hour? An Arab lost his way in a desert, and was in danger of perishing from hunger, when he was fortunate enough to reach a brackish well, and close by he discovered a little leather bag. "Ah! here's just what I need," he cried, with joy; "dates, or nuts, to appease my gnawing hunger!" He hastily opened the bag, but only to east it away with contempt. It was filled with pearls! What value did they possess for one who was about to die? Just as much as the world will be to those who have sold everything else to gain it.
(J. N. Norton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: