When I read in the morning I always have my computer on and my online Bible program up on the screen. I can quickly do any cross-reference work that might be helpful to answer some question that comes to mind and, quite often, I’ll use it to look up the original meaning of words that grab my attention. I’m no Greek or Hebrew scholar, can’t fully appreciate the nuances of the original languages, but often it is helpful, and sometimes quite revealing, to discover something of the meaning behind the meaning of what I read.
Case in point? Something that caught my eye this morning.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing. Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.
(2Timothy 4:8-10a ESV)
Paul’s wrapping it up–his letter to Timothy, his ministry to the Gentiles, his life on earth. He has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith (4:7). And all this as the Lord has faithfully stood by him and enabled him (4:17).
And he anticipates a reward, a crown of righteousness, when he enters the kingdom. Not for his own glory, but for his Master’s. For it’s not due to his own righteousness but through the righteousness credited to his account by the eternal Righteous One.
But what caught my eye this morning is a contrast. Two loves. One which loves His appearing and one which loves this present world.
Now, I’m familiar with the fact that there are a few different Greek words which can be translated as love in the English. From affectionate love to brotherly love to erotic love to the often spoken of agape, or unconditional and sacrificial love. And so, as I encountered these two loves in my reading, I wondered to myself, “Self, what type of loves are we talking about here?” Would these two very different objects of the love, the future kingdom and this present world, command different types of love? Time to go to my Bible program.
To my surprise, in both cases the love with which these opposites are loved is the same love. Agape love.
Demas loved this present world with, in a sense, the highest type of love. Unconditional. Self-sacrificing. So delighting in a thing that he would give everything for that thing. Demas exercised the right love, but for the wrong object.
For we’re not talking about loving the world as God so loved the world (Jn 3:16). God so loved the inhabitants of the world, those who possess soul and spirit, bearing the image of God, created for eternity. Thus, He gave His only Son for the world. But Demas loved this present world. The world of this age. The world at this time. The temporal attractions. The mortal measures. The passing pleasures. And loved it with a love that spent himself on it. That gave himself fully to it. That esteemed it above even his own soul.
Right love. Wrong object.
She’s a siren, this present world. She seductively calls to those who have been wired after their Creator to love with the highest love on that which is of greatest worth and says, “Come love on me and I will show you pleasure.” But, in fact, she invites sojourners to die on her temporal paths through her deceptive song. To waste love. To agape for that which, ultimately, can’t satisfy (Isa. 55:1-2).
How tragic is a Demas. Having seen the light, known the way, tasted of the Lord’s goodness, to desert the things of God to agape this present world.
O that God would keep us near to our first Love. That we would love His appearing. That we would long for His coming. That we would live for His pleasure.
By His grace. For His glory.