9th July 2020

Who Can Be Trusted? 

“Only Luke is with me.”
2 Timothy 4:11 (NKJV)

We know who Luke was: he wrote the third gospel and the book of Acts. We also know that he was a trusted companion of the Apostle Paul. And where was Paul when he said this about Luke? In prison. His second letter to Timothy describes life in a Roman jail as being a particularly painful experience, designed to make life for the prisoner as disgustingly unpleasant as possible. But why does he say ‘only’ Luke is with me? There must have been several other Christians who were missing. Who wasn’t there? Paul lists some of them. Crescens had gone to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia (Titus, we know, was another of Paul’s trusted assistants like Timothy). It is unlikely that they had abandoned him. Verse 12 says he had sent Tychicus to Ephesus. This is the only place in the New Testament where Crescens is mentioned but as he is linked with Titus we can assume that he was another reliable member of Paul’s team.

Colossians and Philemon are among Paul’s letters written from prison, but he clearly expected to be released. In both these letters he asked Philemon to prepare a guest room for him when he came out (Philemon 22). Second Timothy was written much later and this time Paul did not expect to be released. He was on ‘death row’. Very few of his colleagues remained with him then – maybe they were afraid of facing the same fate. Only Luke remained with him. Demas is also mentioned in 2 Timothy 4, but he is a totally different individual. In Colossians 4:14 we read that “Luke…and Demas greet you” showing he was part of Paul’s team, and in his letter to Philemon Paul called him his fellow worker (Philemon 23), But in his second letter to Timothy, Paul wrote “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:10). Demas had let Paul down. He had not stood by him in his hour of need. Maybe Paul’s plight was too much for him. After all, it might have become his plight too. And what had he sacrificed for being one of Paul’s fellow workers? The love of this present world. He wanted to return to it. And so that was what he did. It must have hurt Paul a lot.

Jesus also was hurt in this way. He had chosen twelve men to help him in his work and support him in his hour of need. But as with Paul, one of those whom he had chosen turned against him and betrayed him, for 30 pieces of silver.

It’s a shame that there are people like Demas and Judas around—people who let us down when we most need their support. Maybe we know some of them ourselves. It could cause us to lose our confidence in humanity. Let’s take care not to gullibly trust everyone; not everyone is that honest and trustworthy. But let’s remember that Jesus and Paul had other disciples whom they could trust. So let’s not assume that everyone is like Demas – best avoided. Proverbs 27:5-6 says “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

Lord God, guide me in knowing whom I should trust. Help me to be trustworthy at all times, and especially to my Saviour, Jesus. In His name.

Study by Christopher Reeve


About the Author:
Christopher Reeve is assistant pastor of the Invicta (Blean) Congregation near Canterbury, which is part of Grace Communion International/Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Invicta Fellowship
Blean Village Hall
School Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 11.30 a.m.

Local Congregational Contact:
Mrs Annette Woods
Phone: 07473 188326
Email: annettewoods2@nhs.net

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