These are the last words Paul writes. They are littered with references to people. Paul is imprisoned and likely to stand again before Caesar. He wants Timothy there with him: “Do your best to come to me soon”(2 Tim 4:9). He is lonely and perhaps discouraged because some have left him. “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry”(2 Tim 4:10-11). In his last moments, Paul wants these men he has worked with and known so well to be physically present with him.
Perhaps this is why it hurts Paul so deeply when some forsake him. “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!”(2 Tim 4:14-16). He is thinking about Demas and Alexander (and Phygelus and Hermogenes, 2 Tim 1:15) who have harmed him. But he also takes courage from the fact that even alone, he is not alone because Jesus continues to stand by him (2 Tim 4:17-18).
What can we take from these last words? People matter. People have the power to hurt us or help us, to dishearten and encourage. Even when people cannot solve our problems, we still want them nearby in times of need. We must remember that we have the power to do tremendous good or harm by the way we treat others—including affecting their desire to serve Jesus. Will we be the kind of people that others remember with regret, anger, and disappointment—or those who are close by, encouraging, suffering together, and blessing others?
------------- One Thing to Think About: What people in my life can I turn to in times of need?
One Thing to Pray For: The love to strengthen others in times of hardship
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