Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Control Yourself (Part 1)
Text: Philemon 1:24
Today, I want to introduce you to a man named Demas. He is a man mentioned only three times in the whole New Testament, but the three short verses that mention his name reveal a man who wandered far away from the Lord he once loved and served. It is interesting to note that the name Demas means “The governor of the people.” He is one among many in the Bible, who did not live up to their name, for he was a man who could not even govern, or control, himself.
As we get to know Demas a little better, we will see ourselves as well. That is a good thing, because there are many of us who have wandered away from that place of closeness and intimacy with God. Through exploration of Demas' life, I would like to share three simple principles that will help us keep from ending up like him. Why do we need to review this? We need to be reminded because we are human, and it is all too easy to slip back into our baser nature. We are all prone to wander away from God. The principles gleaned from the life of Demas can help us to keep from doing that!
Point #1: A PERFECT START DOES NOT PROMISE A PERFECT ENDING
Illustration: In 1936, the Olympic Games were held in Berlin, Germany. Hitler thought that this would be the perfect showcase for his “Aryan Race.” However, Hitler was surprised by the performance of Jesse Owens, an African-American athlete, along with several and others. Among the true surprises of that Olympics was the defeat of the heavily favored German Women’s 400 meter relay team by the underdog Americans. When the starting gun sounded, the Germans quickly went ahead of the Americans and held first place until the baton was passed to the last runner. The Germans had a seven yard lead, but the anchor runner dropped the baton and the Germans were disqualified. The German team had executed a perfect start and had run a good race, but, in the end, they learned the terrible truth that a perfect start does not always promise a perfect ending.
When we first meet Demas, he is called a “fellowlabourer” by the Apostle Paul. This phrase literally means, “A companion in the work.” We find Demas mentioned along with Luke, Mark and Aristarchus. All three of these men were well know in the early church. Mark wrote a Gospel that bears his name, as did Luke. Luke also is the author of the book of Acts. Aristarchus served time in prison with Paul (Col. 4:10). All of them were traveling companions of the great Apostle. From this it would appear that Demas was well known, well respected and well liked during this portion of his life and work. But, as close as Demas was to Paul and as much as he grew in the Lord, apparently it did not last. For in 2 Timothy we read these words, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world,” 2 Tim. 4:10.
This happens to many of us, and it happens all the time. We are caught up in the zeal and enthusiasm of the moment. As we encounter frustrations and setbacks, we lose some of that enthusiasm, some of that shine gets knocked off the "perfect" plan we had at the beginning. We begin to question ourselves, our faith, and God...
We have no record of how Demas came to know the Lord Jesus as his Savior. But, it would appear that all those around him thought he was the real deal as well. But, the time came when Demas fizzled out as a servant of the Lord. He was going along well, but he burned out and fell out. His life illustrates a principle that many of us would rather not have to live by: How we finish is just as important as how we begin.
[ more tomorrow...]