One can find all kinds of epitaphs on the internet: some funny, some sad, some that definitely cannot be repeated. Have you ever considered what you might want engraved on your tombstone? It really is something to consider. I think there are probably some things that you do not want on your tombstone. Consider these actual tombstone engravings:
“I told you I was sick.”
“Here lies an atheist. All dressed up and no place to go.”
“She died from a broken heart.”
In a single day, I heard two separate preachers mention a man named Demas, a contemporary of the apostle Paul. When God repeats things to me, I try to pay attention because I assume He is trying to get my attention. So, I decided to check out Demas and see what he had to teach me. Turns out, it was something related to tombstone engravings.
Our boy Demas is mentioned in Scripture three times, each time by Paul. The first two appearances of Demas are in Colossians and Philemon, both written around AD 62. In Colossians, Paul simply mentions Demas, along with Luke, as someone who greets the church at Colossae, while in Philemon, Demas is referred to as Paul’s fellow worker. At this point, it appears that Paul and Demas were buds.
Then, two to three years later, around AD 65 when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, there had been a seismic shift in the relationship between these two men. We are not given specifics, but Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:10 speak with a large megaphone.
For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.
Demas had walked away in Paul’s most desperate days and gone to Thessalonica. Why? Had ministry become too hard? Too dangerous? Had Demas gotten hungry? Lonely? Disappointed? Resentful?
For all we do not know, we are told that Demas had fallen in love with this present world. He valued the world and its ways more than following Jesus. He was not willing to take up his cross and follow Christ. Two Greek words used in this phrase give us further cause for pause.
The word used for “love” is agapeo (verb). It means to love (in a social or moral sense). Agape (noun) is a related word that we often apply to the love that Christ has for us, and the love that we should have for others. A love that is unconditional and self-sacrificing. Demas’ loved the world and its ways with the fervor he should have had for Christ.
The other word we need to examine is world. The Greek word used here is “aion,” and it means “the present world, with its cares, temptations, and desires, the idea of evil, both moral and physical, being everywhere implied.” The world for which Demas had deserted Paul and Christ was evil and He was choosing that world over Jesus.
Demas’ tombstone might well have read, “Demas: he loved the world.”
Mmmm, mmm, mmmm. You and I shake our heads at Demas, but there are questions we must ask ourselves and answer with gut-level honesty.
Do we love our present world more than we love Jesus?
Do we choose to follow the mores of society rather than the teachings of the Bible?
Do we water down the gospel in order to keep from offending people?
Are we accepting of what God calls sin simply because society calls it good and acceptable?
Demas loved the world and deserted Paul. You and I must choose our response to Christ and the Scriptures.
What will your tombstone say, friend?