The Shepherd of Hermas: Absorb and Associate

Home » Meditations » Meditations » The Shepherd of Hermas: Absorb and Associate

Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. 2 Timothy 4:9-15

“The ones who returned their sticks half green and half withered are those who are absorbed in business and do not associate with the saints; this is why one half of them lives, but the other half is dead. Many, therefore, repented when they heard my commandments. Those who have repented have their home within the tower. But some of them fell away completely.

These, therefore, have no repentance, for on account of their business affairs they blasphemed the Lord and denied him. So they lost their life because of the evil they did. But many of them were double-minded. These still have an opportunity to repent, if they repent quickly, and their home will be within the tower; but if they repent more slowly, they will live within the walls.

But if they do not repent at all, they too have lost their lives. And the ones who returned the sticks two-thirds green and one-third withered are those who have denied the Lord repeatedly. Many have repented and gone off to live inside the tower, but many fell away from God completely; these ultimately lost their lives. And some of them were double-minded and caused dissensions. For these, then, there is repentance, if they repent quickly and do not persist in their pleasures. But if they persist in their actions, they too produce death for themselves.”

The Shepherd of Hermas 74, Parable VIII.8 (c. A.D. 70-140) in The Apostolic Fathers, Greek Texts and English Translations 3rd edition, edited and translated by, Michael W. Holmes after the earlier work of J. B. Lightfoot and J. R. Harmer, 83.

Only you can say what absorbs your time and with whom you associate. Only you can decide not allow business affairs and the pursuit of wealth to hinder your fruitfulness.

To be double-minded in antiquity is to think that money solves our problems. God does. To be double-minded in antiquity is to pursue God and pleasures.

When we pursue God, because He is good, we will enjoy pleasures. But if we pursue the pleasures, they will be empty. Let me give an example of this.

Jesus enjoyed wine. It’s not the alcoholic who enjoys wine. He or she is controlled by it, a slave to it, and loses the ability to enjoy it. Only a slave to God can enjoy it.

Jesus did not have a place to lay his head but he enjoyed provision. If we make provision or wealth our pursuit, like the alcoholic, we become consumed, and the enemy celebrates.

Hermas, in ancient thinking likens our lives as sticks and uses the tower and walls to depict our eternal destiny linked to our decisions now. It’s complicated but let me say this.

If you have pursued wealth or pleasures, repent. Pursue God, use wealth to accomplish His purposes, and don’t let business affairs absorb your time and suck the life out of you.

Associate with those who give you life. This brings today’s Scripture into view. The Apostle Paul writes Timothy about people who have remained with him and those who have not.

Apostacy is a reality. What matters is not how you start but how you finish. Don’t let business affairs or anything else distract your focus. Associate with saints!

This week I am having priceless time with saints from five countries. Next week I fly to Wisconsin to spend two days with John Stanley in Wisconsin. In the words of Paul, “he is helpful to me.”

John reminds me to guard my heart, to surrender to Jesus daily, and to trust Him with everything. Do you have friends like that? If so, spend time with them. If not, find them.