People Whom God Allows into Our Lives

2 Timothy 4
9 Do your best to come to me soon. 10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. 12 Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. 16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

The Lord is gracious to place us in the midst of many people. We are all surrounded by people. We are from families, we all at some level have friendships. We have work associates and neighbors. We have our church family. In addition, there are strangers around us, people that we don’t know that cross our paths on a regular basis. There are people around us who bring us great joy, and some who may bring only pain. And then there are those who are the source of both joy and pain. In fact, it is most often the people who are closest to us that cause us both joy and pain, that is the nature of close relationships.

God uses people around us to help us – a repair man that works on your car, a painter who paints your house, a teacher that supplies you with information, a doctor who treats an illness. We are surrounded by people of all kinds. Some people we are drawn to naturally, while others not so much. Some relationships you choose, and others you are forced into.

But no relationship, no interaction with another person is outside of God’s reach, His care, or His ability to carry you through it. We may wonder about and question many relationships that we find ourselves in, but in them all God is at work. He has said He will never leave us or forsake us. He has said:

Matthew 10
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

In Romans 8:28-29, one of the most encouraging verses in all the Bible for me, and one that shows me God’s sovereign power, there He grants us a tremendous promise that only an all-powerful, all-knowing God could promise, He says:

Romans 8
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

The promise there is that God can and will work all things together for our good, and the good is that He will work all things together for us to make us more like Jesus Christ.

So in every relationship, every interaction with another person, whether we see it as good or bad, postive or negative, healthy or unhealthy, in every one God is with us and He is for us, and He will use it for our good, for our sanctification, for our spiritual growth, for our continued transformation, to make us more like Jesus Christ.

That is a tremendous, awesome promise! And here is why: it is because we will all struggle with some relationships, but in all of them God is at work, there is purpose. And His purpose is not to just make us feel good, or be more self-confident, or make life easy; no, His purpose in us is to make us more like Christ for His glory.

So if you are in the middle of a hard relationship, maybe one where there was betrayal or harsh words, or a lack of love or something else, take heart: God is still with you, and for you, and working in circumstances for your good.

Our passage this morning is an illustration of this. Paul had many relationships. He had good ones and bad ones, easy ones and hard ones. He had some that started out good and ended badly. But he never blames God, he never calls God out as having let him down. He knew that God was still with him and for him, but was not ignorant of people who were against him and his ministry. He never seems bitter about them – his view of God and assurance of God’s care was too great to get down over them. He called some out, yes, but he moved on. I think Paul is a great example for us here.

Let’s look at some of his relationships – what he says of them, and how he begins the ending of this letter. Paul begins in verse 9 to reference his relationship with Timothy:

2 Timothy 4
9 Do your best to come to me soon.

Paul had a faithful friend in Timothy, he had a true brother in the ministry with Timothy, and he longed to see Timothy in his final days on earth. Elsewhere in this book Paul talks of Timothy as being his child in the faith and his beloved son. Timothy was perhaps Paul’s greatest of earthly freinds. Their friendship was built on their faith and love, not only for Christ but for the gospel of Christ. They had this in common, a strong desire to make Jesus known. Their friendship was truly based on Jesus.

In Philippians 2 Paul said this to the church in Philippi:

Philippians 2
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also.

Do you seek how he speaks of his friend Timothy? What a blessing it is to have a friendship like this in this life! A true, genuine, faithful friend!

I hope you have someone like this in your life! I hope you have a friendship with this kind of depth and honesty in your life. I hope you can be this kind of friend to someone and I hope I will be as well. What an encouragement. I would guess that at the end of life, if we know when that is like Paul did here, we will want true friends, those who are closest to us, to be around. Will we be that for others?

Do you want to know what it looks like to be a faithful friend? Let me give you a sample:

  1. Love one another
    • John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”
    • John 13:35 – “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  2. Serve one another
    • John 13:14 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
    • Galatians 5:13 – “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
  3. Be intricately involved with one another
    • Romans 12:5 – “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” 
  4. Care for one another
    • 1 Corinthians 12:25 – “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”
  5. Edify and encourage one another
    • Romans 14:19 – “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
  6. Receive and greet one another
    • Romans 15:7 – “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.”
  7. Admonish one another
    • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
  8. Consider one another
    • Ephesians 4:2 – “With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.”
    • Colossians 3:13 – “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
  9. Bear one another’s burdens
    • Galatians 6:2 – “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
  10. Submit to one another
    • Ephesians 5:21 – “Submitting to one another in the fear of God.”
  11. Forgive one another
    • Colossians 3:13 – “Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
  12. Teach one another
    • Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
  13. Comfort one another
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 – “Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
  14. Confess to one another
    • James 5:16 – “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
  15. Pray for one another
    • James 5:16 – “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
  16. Have compassion for one another
    • 1 Peter 3:8 – “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;”
  17. Practice hospitality to one another
    • 1 Peter 4:9 – “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.”
  18. Minister spiritual gifts to one another
    • 1 Peter 4:10 – “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
  19. Things not to do to one another:
    • Galatians 5:26 – “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
    • Colossians 3:9 – “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,”
    • James 4:11 – “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”
    • James 4:12 – “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”
    • James 5:9 – “Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!”

God gives us clear instruction on how to live faithfully with each other. God is not silent regarding how we are to relate to one another. By the power of God and in His Spirit we can be faithful friends to each other as Timothy was to Paul and as Paul was to Timothy. This is pleasing to our Lord. Selfishness is what drives wedges between us.

Now, next, we see some contrast. We see contrast between Timothy’s faithful friendship and another man named Demas.

2 Timothy 4
10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.

If Timothy is a good example for us, Demas is not such a good example. But let me point out that while Paul mentions Demas in a negative light here, again, he does not accuse God of evil or express bitterness toward Demas. He calls him out, yes, but not with personal attacks.

Demas had apparently been close to Paul and his ministry, but something happened to change that. Back in Colossians we see this:

Colossians 4
12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.

So there we see Demas as part of the ministry with Paul and Luke. Something happened. What happened? Well, anyone close to Paul would have a very high opportunity for persecution. To be close to Paul was risky. It wasn’t really Paul though, it was being close to Christ and faithful to Christ that made persecution likely. What happened when life got hard for Demas? Well, it appears he made a decision, and his decision was to do what it took to lessen the persecution. Demas was in love with the present world. John said in 1 John 2:

1 John 2
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Demas began to believe that the world apart from Christ, apart from faithfulness to Jesus, was more attractive than life in Christ. The glitter and glamour of the world attracted him. Being one of the crowd was more precious to him than loving the Savior. This is not surprising. This happens all the time. When persecution comes, the superficial so-called Christian will abandon the faith, it will not be worth it to him. As Jesus said in Matthew 13, the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of riches overcame him.

This is a sad commentary on Demas. Paul said Demas deserted him. Deserted means to abandon someone and leave them in a helpless place or in a dire situation. It is like turning your back on someone when they need you most. This is what Demas chose to do, he chose to look out only for himself, leave Paul while Paul faced opposition and troubles, and just walk away.

Can you see that Demas chose a path that was completely opposite of what God calls us to be in each other’s lives? The question for us is, will we be more like Timothy when the going gets tough, or will we be more like Demas?

Will we live faithfully to Christ in our relationships, or won’t we? This we must ask ourselves.

But secondly, by way of application, we need to realize that we will probably have people like Timothy and Demas in our lives. But either way, God is in control, and God is caring for us and is with us. Either way, God will work things out for our good. Timothy was very helpful to Paul for sure, Demas was a disappointment for sure, but Demas did not change Paul’s resolve, did not wreck his life, did not knock him off track. Paul’s relationship with Demas did not affect Paul’s faith in Christ, only provided an example of how sin can destroy a man, but Paul was not destroyed.

The truth is, God is faithful whether people are or not. He is faithful. Be a good friend, be a faithful friend, and trust the Lord with others who are around you.