“. . . the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day. . . Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.” (2 Timothy 4:6-10)
The Spirit led me to consider what success in life looks like the morning of my 45th birthday. I just so “happened” to be in 2nd Timothy 4. The part where Paul writes to Timothy at the end of his life. Many names are mentioned, but two grab my attention. Paul and Demas.
Paul is in a prison cell, yet sees his life as a total and complete success. He won at life.
Demas left Paul to go be successful. He is known for being a man who wanted to make a name for himself. Read that again: Demas is known for being a man who wanted to make a name for himself. That’s it. We don’t know what came of Demas. All we know is that he abandoned Paul.
Paul wanted to make a name for Jesus regardless of what happened to him or who liked him or who left him.
Demas was seduced by the lure (trap) of safety, security, ease, health, wealth, and many friends.
One way led to ultimate success. The other way didn’t.
As I take my 45th lap around the sun I am reminded, yet again, of how close I get to taking the other way. Honestly, I am painfully aware of how often I do take the other way. It’s pervasive. It’s everywhere. The “way of success” put out there by the world is so appealing, so natural, so embedded in the air that I breathe. I, like Demas, notice what happens to those who follow and speak for Jesus and look for another way to be successful. I, like Demas, think there actually is another way.
Sure. There are other ways. But there’s only one THE way. There’s only one way to truly be successful in life. The One who said He was THE way is also the One who said He was THE life. Paul was in a prison cell. He had less than a handful of close friends. No family nearby. No appeals for release. No request for his favorite foods. All he wanted was a coat and the Scriptures. According to the kingdom of heaven, that is success. He was obedient to the Lord and enjoyed the presence of the Lord. Whatever the Lord chose to do with that was up to Him.
The one who wanted to make a name for himself is known merely for wanting to make a name for himself.
The one who wanted to make a name for Jesus is known throughout the world for making a name for Jesus.
One died chasing the world and all we know is that he left Paul.
One wrote a letter in a jail cell and, well, we are still reading him today.
I wonder if Demas ever regretted leaving? I wonder if he left the faith, made a lot of money, had a lot of “friends,” and felt empty when he put his head on his fluffy pillow at night?
I wonder if Paul ever regretted keeping the faith? I wonder if he slept good on the floor of his prison cell?
I wonder who was the one who was more fulfilled? Who was the most successful?
Oh God, teach me what real success looks like in life.