The Thoroughfare of Friendship: The Forsaken, the Faithful and the Forgiven

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FRIENDSHIPS ARE RISKY!

2 Timothy 4:10-11 ~ For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry

It was somewhere between 17 and 100 years ago that I started down the pathway of salvation, having heard the gospel of Christ from a man who preached loud and long and his words pierced my soul as none I’d ever heard before. Sound melodramatic? Call it what you like, but it was a life changing event that abruptly changed my direction in life and the people in it. In one day I had acquired a new group of friends that put into question what I had believed friendship to be my entire life, although that revelation did not occur for months, if not years down the road. It’s not that my past friendships were void or unimportant, not so at all! I wanted every friend in my life on this new journey, because I knew that this journey had a promise.

I did not know as a newly converted Christian that this journey not only had promise it had problems, and how I, and my new found friends dealt with the problems of life would be entirely different. That’s why 2 Timothy 4:10-11 caught my eye this morning. Paul writes to Timothy; and you almost hear his plea for encouragement as he tells him in verse 9 “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:” He needs him to come quickly because his friends in the faith that he’d depended upon had gone. Paul’s friends of the faith were no longer on the journey with him for entirely different reasons, and with each one Paul had lost a source of strength.

He begins with Demas, who had the previous year been a fellow laborer in Christ but had now forsaken Paul for the present world. Possibly the most painful friendships I’ve lost have been those who walked away from the body of Christ as if it had never meant anything to them. Each time it happened (yes, I’ve lost more than one friend this way) it was a realization that I too am one misguided notion away from leaving the best thing in my life, and that I need to strive to keep my eyes not on man, but on Christ who saved me.

Crescens and Titus had both been steadfast friends of the faith but were now called into their own ministries and away from Paul. Although it is certainly not a hurt like that of a friend who has returned to the world, it is still painful when friends move out of our lives, even for the godliest of reasons. When my own sister and her family became missionaries to Canada, she took a piece of my heart with her. Praise God for technology that allows us daily contact if we so desire, but Paul did not have that. At best an occasional letter would be it. He missed them. So do I…

Then Paul mentions Luke and Mark. Luke had stayed with him and he was grateful, but he needed Mark who would be profitable, although Paul had not always thought so (Acts 15:36-41). Mark had at one time refused to work in the ministry, though it is not told why, whether he were lazy or fearful; either way Paul and Barnabas had a serious disagreement over it. But there is no mention of it now; Mark is now profitable. We all let each other down in the ministry. I know for a fact I’ve let people down. Praise God! for forgiveness and restoration. Whoever coined the phrase “No pain, no gain,” knew what they were talking about. Friendships are a risk. They don’t always end well, but they are always worth it!!!!

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