The position in which both Timothy and Demas - amongst others - found themselves at the time when Paul wrote this letter was the acid test.
Various other forms of testing might leave the metal still undetermined
as to its through-and-through genuineness, but when at length subjected
to the acid the verdict will be final.
Paul and his position was the acid test.
It was not alone the fact that
he was Rome's prisoner, and that the world was against, so that his
life was to be forfeit for his faith. There were more factors than that.
There was the fact that in every city and town the whole Jewish
fraternity was against him. Then, not only was the world and the
religious system which had - in a sense - produced Christ and
Christianity - against him, but he was suspect amongst many Christians
Even Peter found some things in his letters "hard to be
Paul's position of being outside of the world,
outside of the so widely established religious order, and so utterly
spiritual and heavenly in object and method, meant well-nigh universal
misunderstanding, suspicion, and ostracism.
Association with him left no
hope of popularity, wide acceptance, or even generous appreciation.
the contrary; the shadow resting upon Paul would rest upon all his
associates, and their chances of influence would be prejudiced before
ever they gave their message.
The alternatives were quite
If the world was at all in their hearts, the utterness of Paul's
way left them no honest course but to leave all that for which he stood
and go where that heart-dividing element drew them - back to the world.
Demas did this. Paul was too much for anyone who had a secret love for
Another course was open to such of whom it could not
be said bluntly that they "loved this present evil age."
association with Paul jeopardised their existing opportunities in the
Lord's work, or introduced an element of risk into the prospects of wide
They could secretly and inwardly be in sympathy with Paul,
but keep quiet about it, and never let their sympathies be known.
might even go as far as to let Paul know that they had a very real
agreement with him, but at the same time intimate that their very
usefulness to the Lord (?) would become curtailed if they openly
associated themselves with him and his position.
Thus they would be
involved in being one thing to Paul, and another to his enemies.
only remaining course would be to be quite sure about Paul's position,
decide whether God was with him, and risk everything on a full unashamed fellowship with him, believing that in the long run God would
And in the meantime a man with a mandate from heaven cannot
have his ministry stopped by all the forces of earth and hell; God will
sovereignly see to that, and if every door which man can close is
closed, God has others which no man can shut.
This last course Timothy took. What is the verdict of the long-run?
Tragic as is the answer concerning Demas, perhaps his was the more honest way than that of those who adopt the middle course.
These three courses are presented to many of the Lord's people today,
and the question for many - especially those in the Lord's service - is,
will they compromise in the matter of their position and relationships
in order to preserve their own influence, or will they pay the price,
lose everything, and have such a Divine support as will see at length
something accomplished which is in spite of everything having conspired
to make it impossible?
~T. Austin Sparks~