Lesson 20, April 15, 20112
A GODLY EXAMPLE
2 Timothy1:1-5, 3:14-15
We live in an age of negative influences. God’s word has been taken out of schools and public buildings. Television and movies are full of hostility, murder and immorality. Children can be sheltered at home but soon grow out of parental protection. In this age of negative influences bombarding children from all sides, how important it is that they receive the strong spiritual influences and teachings within our families. As mothers and grandmothers, we have a mission to build God’s love into a child so that they are equipped for life.
Grandmothers and mothers often fail to get credit for the success of a child. People like to contribute a person's success to their fathers or to good fortune. However, it is often mothers and grandmothers who have been working quietly in the background to build character from the time of the child’s birth. Lois and her daughter, Eunice, are only mentioned once in the Bible. Not much is said about them but that which is recorded tells an amazing and very important story.
To first get a better picture of the mom and grandmother, let’s quickly take a look at the son and grandson, Timothy. The apostle Paul wrote two personal letters to Timothy who was a young church leader. In 2 Timothy 1:2, Paul called him "my beloved son." Timothy was his spiritual son and beloved protégé.
Timothy was just a child when Paul visited Lystra on his first missionary journey. He was probably somewhere around 10 - 12 years old at that time and he was still a young man when Paul wrote his first letter to him (I Tim 4:12). All this means Timothy was somewhere around 18 years old when Paul met him on his second missionary travel.
Acts 16:1-3 tells us that Timothy’s mother was a Jewess and a believer but his father was a Greek. From this statement, it seems that the father knew little about God and it seems that the father really didn't care about any spiritual training for Timothy. Thus Timothy received his spiritual training through his mother and grandmother. We are told that Timothy had been taught the Holy Scriptures since he was an infant. He had been fully prepared for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Since Timothy was not circumcised, it would seem that he was also well educated in Greek ways and customs of his father (Acts 16:3).
When Paul met Timothy, Timothy was already a Christian believer with a strong and firm testimony. Timothy’s maturity and importance are seen in Acts 16 when the word “he” of verse one is changed very rapidly to “they” of verse four. Timothy became a son to Paul (1 Cor. 4:17). He was esteemed so highly and loved so deeply by Paul that Paul said he was the one man whose mind was at one with his own (Phil 2:19). He was probably chosen by Paul to become Paul’s successor (Phil. 1:1). From this point on, he was seen either ministering with Paul, or else being sent out by Paul to minister to certain churches. Timothy was also imprisoned with Paul (2 Tim. 4:11,12) .
The man that Timothy turned out to be started back as a young child - receiving godly training and instruction from his godly mother (Eunice) and grandmother (Lois). Let’s look at what made Timothy who he became.
1. Eunice & Lois introduced faith to Timothy at an early age. 2 Timothy 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
Eunice was a devout Hebrewess, and regarded it as one of the important duties of her religion to train her son in the careful knowledge of the word of God. The Greek word here used for ‘child’ -- means infant (this even applies to the unborn child as it does in Luke 1:41, 44; 2:12,16). Each of these references make it probable that Timothy had been taught the Scriptures as soon as he was capable of learning anything. This means:
(1) that it is right to teach the Bible to children at as early a period of life as possible. Research has proven that babies in the womb even respond to music, speech and other stimuli. Proverbs 22:6
(2) that there is reason to hope that such instruction will not be forgotten (Psalms 119:11) but will have a valuable influence on their future lives. The faithfulness of Timothy is traced by the apostle to the fact that he had been early taught to read the Scriptures. Think about this --- It was Timothy who wrote 2 Timothy 3:16 He said that ALL scripture was given by inspiration and is profitable for instruction!
(3) it is appropriate to teach the Old Testament to children - since this was all that was available for Eunice & Lois to teach to Timothy -- the means of his salvation. Again we see the verse in 2 Timothy 3:16 that says all scripture.
(4) That it is important to continue to teach the scriptures to the children as they grow. Deuteronomy 6:7 tells us when we should teach our children: Talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. This about sums it up, huh?
2. Eunice and Lois’s set a Godly example in their home. I Timothy 1:5 which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice;
The faith started with Lois (the grandmother). Lois had become a sincere believer in Christ. She then taught her daughter Eunice in the ways of her faith. In the Acts of the Apostles Acts 16:1, we have an account of the family of Timothy: - “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra; and behold a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek.” This verse says that the mother of Timothy was “a Jewess, and believed;” It also states that his father was not a believer. It was against the law for a Jew to marry a woman of other nations, or for a man to give his daughter in marriage to a Gentile, Ezra 9:12. But it seems that this law was not regarded very strictly by the Jews at this time who lived in the midst of pagan nations.
His grandmother and mother taught him from the Old Testament. Timothy learned that there is one true God, that the Messiah had been promised, and you are blessed when you live by faith. Most likely, they also told him stories that had circulated about Jesus Christ of Galilee -- of his birth, death and resurrection (remember believers were being scattered abroad out from Jerusalem because of the persecution).
It is good to teach children how to help in the home and how to have the best work ethics. It is good that children learn in school and participate in sports BUT the most important teaching that we as mothers and grandmothers can give to them is the Bible, the Word of God. Attract the children away from TV and video games and read to them Bible stories.
What are some ways that we can encourage children to become acquainted with God’s Word: Songs, devotionals, teaching them to pray (start by praying before a meal) or Bible stories (that are on their level) play a game that would promote Bible education.
This mother and grandmother emphasized the Holy Scriptures. I imagine that Timothy watched his mother respect and honor his unbelieving father in the home. He watched his mother and grandmother lived a godly example before him. They were honest, they were kind and helpful to others. Not only did they teach him in the way of the Lord but they LED him in the way.
· His mother and grandmother loved God above all else even to the point of becoming selfless -- this is where Timothy received his love for God. Deut. 6:5
· His mother and grandmother had an undying faith in God that never wavered -- this is where Timothy’s FAITH to God became strong. Romans 10:17
· His mother and grandmother read the scriptures and prayed every day -- this is where Timothy realized the importance of scripture - thus two books of the Bible where written just to him. Psalms 119:9-11
· His mother and grandmother followed the teachings of Jesus Christ in their lives -- this is where Timothy grew up wanting to serve Jesus with his whole life.
· His mother and grandmother told people they met where God had brought them from to where they are now -- this is where Timothy developed a desire to become a missionary just like Paul. Psalms 100:2
Titus 2:7 says that we are to be a pattern of good works.
3. Eunice & Lois passed on a faith that effected Timothy for a lifetime. In I Timothy 1:5, Paul wrote “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee” that was where first? His mother and grandmother. Eunice and Lois passed on a godly heritage - a heritage of sincere faith. It was not hypocritical or two-faced. They walked with God and did not walk away from their faith.
Eunice and Lois taught him to be genuine and honest -- they “Talked the talk and walked the walk”. I can hear them say: “ Timothy -- you are a Christian, we will faithfully read the Bible and pray together everyday. We will attend church every week and serve the Lord. Timothy, keep your word… use kind words .... be honest. Timothy, you need to have the right friends; friends that will help you be a better follower of Christ. ” Our children should be encouraged to live for Christ --- they face many more challenges today than we did as children. However, it is still our duty to teach them. Teach them how to dress modestly and not as the world (bikinis, short shorts, plunging necklines, midriffs showing) - this begins at an early age. Instruct them to watch their attitude about sin and how it grieves God. They should be taught how to keep themselves pure morally. They should instructed from the Word of God to live by Godly principles.
I believe the life of faith is developed with spiritual habits; it is not a one-time ‘mountain top’ experience. God uses spiritual practices to shape our lives, in the same way that water shapes a rock. A drop of water won’t change the shape of a rock. A steady stream of water, flowing for a long time, begins to smooth the rough places of a rock. Faith for a lifetime is what we need to instill in our children and grandchildren. A faith that never wavers but is steadfast and sure. How can we possess this kind of faith?
4. Eunice & Lois faith influenced Timothy was sustaining faith. I Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 1:5 In other words... Yes, they did teach Timothy that faith in Christ was important and that his faith should not waver. But more than that they taught him that his faith in Christ would keep him not only when it was easy but also when taking a stand could cost him friends, family, comfort and/or even his own life.
You see, Timothy was living in a era were it was easy to forsake Christ -- a time when there were many false teachers (sounds familiar doesn’t it?). One of the major reasons for Timothy’s strength in the Lord was the strong faith that his mother and grandmother passed on to him. And now Timothy was an adult and the faith that he had seen working in his mother and grandmother, he now possessed! Verse five says, “I am persuaded that in thee also.” Paul implied that Timothy’s faith lived or dwelled in him and that it was a faith that was there to stay, 24/7. Today, a whole generation is being lost as parents aren’t influencing their children for Jesus. The 30-40 year olds stay home from church and their children don’t hear the Bible stories that are so important in forming our foundational Christian principles.
How had Timothy become such a productive, faithful, and important minister in God’s work? It all started when he was a little boy. It all started with little things. May we be faithful to the job that God has given us for our children/grandchildren. Let us not give up. And let us remember the promise of Proverbs 22:6, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."