Mothers Pass on Their Faith
On this day that we honor mothers, its good for us to think about how much you really do honor mothers.
Being a mother is not a walk in the park:
- By the time a child reaches 18, a mother has had to handle some extra 18,000 hours of child-generated work.
- (In fact, women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year in leisure time!)
- A Middle School science teacher lectured on the properties of magnets for an entire class. The next day he gave his students a quiz. The first question read like this: “My name begins with an “M,” has six letters, and I pick things up. What am I?” Half the kids in the class wrote, “Mother.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson has said, “Men are what their mothers make them” and an old Spanish proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.”
There are some great portraits of motherhood in Scripture:
- I love the picture of the mother of Moses who cared so much for her son that she broke the law in order to teach him the faith of his people. Do you know her name? Jochebed and her name is not easily found in the Scripture. It is what she did that is important.
- We see the sacrificial love of the mother who appeared before King Solomon and told him that she was willing to have her son taken away by another woman whose son had died and claimed her son belonged to her. She was willing to have her son given to the one woman than see any harm come to him. (1 Kings 3:16-28)
- Or, the mother of James and John who loved her boys so much that she wanted them to sit by the Lord’s side in the heavenly kingdom. (Matthew 20:20-28)
A Grandmother, a Mother, and a Boy
I’d like to introduce you to a young woman named Eunice. She was raised in a religious home and was greatly impacted by her mother Lois. She loved to learn the stories from the Bible when she was young and enjoyed going to services where she could learn about God. As she approached her teenage years, she was still focused on spiritual matters but she became attracted to a young man who was not into religion at all. Against the best wishes of her godly mother, the teaching of her faith, and the tug of her conscience, she married the man. Don’t get me wrong he was a nice guy but thought spiritual matters were for weak people.
After a couple years of marriage, Eunice and her husband had a baby boy who they named Timothy. In the meantime, Eunice’s dad had died so they asked her mother Lois to come and live with them (customary in those days). Little Timmy was a delight to everyone. Both his mother and grandmother spent hours with him, teaching him the stories of the Old Testament, praying with him and for him, and training him in the things of God. While they didn’t have any Veggie Tale videos or VBS, they created a spiritual environment where Tim could flourish.
Then, one day, a preacher named Paul came to their town of Lystra and spoke about a man named Jesus. Both Lois and Eunice listened intently. They saw in Jesus the fulfillment of all the promises in the Old Testament and placed their trust in Him and were converted. These new believers in turn focused on teaching Timothy all about Jesus. We know from reading the book of Acts that Paul himself took a personal interest in Tim as a teenager and with his mother and grandmother, led him to saving faith.
Later, Paul and Timothy partnered together in ministry as the gospel continues to spread throughout the area. Many years later, while Paul is in prison, awaiting his execution, he writes two letters to young Timothy. These letters contain some teaching about how Timothy should behave as a church leader and are also filled with some reminiscing and nostalgia on Paul’s part. As Paul writes these letters, that we know as 1Timothy and 2 Timothy, he reflects on the mothers who made an impact in Tim’s life – Eunice his mother and Lois his grandmother.
With that as background, I’m going to draw from three different passages of Scripture two of which are found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy -- to show how a mother and a grandmother - can make a significant spiritual impact on her children – we all can make spiritual impacts on children as well if we instill these principles: Respect for the Scripture, Live out An Authentic Faith, and have a Desire to be in Ministry.
- Instill a Respect for Scripture: The first way we can have a spiritual impact on a child is by instilling within the child a respect for Scripture.
- In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul reminds Timothy that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will have difficulties. Then in verse 14, Paul urges Timothy to hang in there in tough times: “Butas for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it…”
- Timothy not only learned things cognitively, he made a practice of owning what he studied. He didn’t just fill his head with truth but he internalized it and then lived it out. I think Timothy did this because he saw it modeled in his mother, in his grandmother, and in Paul himself.
- 2 Timothy 3:15 shows us what this truth was: “And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.”
- In the manner of devout Israelites, grandmother, Lois and mother Eunice taught the Holy Scriptures to Timothy from the very beginning.
- Lois and Eunice teamed up to provide high-powered Bible Study, Fellowship classes for young Timothy even before he could crawl! They read to him, they talked about Samson and Samuel, David and Ruth, Abraham and Noah. They did everything they could to provide Timothy with the opportunity to learn all he could about the Bible.
- In essence, they lived out the commands of Deuteronomy 6:4-7: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV)
- These two mothers had God’s Word in their hearts. Because they had internalized the truth into their own lives, they could impress it upon young Timothy by talking about it throughout the day, showing Tim how the Scriptures should impact every area of life.
- Mothers / Parents/ Grandparents it is never too early to start teaching the Bible to your children and, it’s never too late to start if you haven’t already. There is nothing that can replace your role in your child’s life. God wants to use you to instill within your children a respect for the Bible.
1. Thankfully, we do not have to do this all by ourselves:
- Our kids are provided with Bible-based lessons and our youth have a great youth fellowship and Young Life opportunities.
- Rainbow Kids
Four scholars were arguing over Bible translations. One said he preferred the King James Version because of its beauty and eloquent old English. Another said he liked the New American Standard Version for its literalism and how it moves the reader from passage to passage with confident feelings of accuracy from the original text. The third scholar was sold on the New Living Translation for its use of contemporary phrases and idioms that capture the meaning of difficult ideas. After being quiet for a moment, the fourth scholar admitted: “I have personally preferred my mother’s translation.” When the other scholars started laughing, he said, “Yes, she translated the Scriptures. My mom translated each page of the Bible into life. It is the most convincing translation I have ever read.”
- What kind of Bible is our children reading when they observes our life? Are you looking for ways to instill a respect for the Word of God into the lives of our children, grandchildren?
- Children are impacted by so many different individuals.
- When I look at the people of faith that influenced me there are so many, from my next door neighbors, to Sunday School Teachers, to my grandmas, to scout leaders, and the list goes on.
II. Secondly we need to instill an Authentic Faith in our children - The second way to make an impact in the lives of our children is by instilling within them an authentic faith. We see this in 2 Timothy 1:5: “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
- Even though Lois and Eunice were believers, Timothy needed to come to a point in which he put his faith in Christ. Faith is not hereditary, it is learned. Timothy learned about being faithful from grandma and mom.
- When we model genuine faith it then can be copied.
- The word, “sincere” related to faith means that it was “un-hypocritical.” It was real, without any pretense or false façade. Faith had come and taken up residence in his mother’s heart and in his grandmother’s heart and was now alive in Timothy’s life. These two mothers were completely sold out to Christ. They were fully devoted and completely committed. And Timothy knew it. No one knows better than a child whether a parent’s faith is genuine.
- Notice the chain here: Lois to Eunice to Timothy. Mothers past on the faith.
- In Timothy’s case the male figure of influence was Paul, not his father. That’s not to say that a father is not important he is. What I’m saying is this: a mother can make a significant spiritual impact on her children.
- Moms, dads, grandparents, if you want to instill authentic faith in your children then you better take your own faith seriously. If you’re just going through the motions spiritually or not doing anything your kids will eventually see it, and tragically may do the same thing when they are older.
- We need to demonstrate our faith consistently by reading the Bible, praying, attending worship, bringing our kids to programs that help them grow spiritually, and by participating in the life and mission of the church, we will send a strong message to our children.
- I heard recently about a pastor who had a long conversation with someone about becoming a member of his church. When he was done the young man said he was ready to join. The pastor was curious so he asked him, “What did I say that convinced you to join the church?” The man answered, “It was nothing I ever heard you say. It was the way my mother lived.” It sure popped the pastor’s bubble but just think what it was saying to his mother.
- My mother, my mother-in-law and my two grandmothers, Mary Beth’s grandmother as well as my dad had an enormous impact on my faith.
- As I think about the kind of faith that was passed from a mother to a mother to a son, I’m convinced that a mother like this has the following:
- She knows her Bible and is willing to teach it.
- Prayer: Any home in which faith is passed on from generation to generation has to be a home of prayer.
- One cannot imagine Lois not praying for Eunice or Eunice not praying for Timothy or Timothy and Eunice praying for Lois.
- We read in Acts 12:12 that the mother of John Mark opened her home for a prayer meeting while Peter was imprisoned. In Acts 1:14, Mary, the mother of Jesus “joined together constantly in prayer” with the disciples. That’s the hallmark of a godly mother.
- Timothy’s family environment was fertile to his faith development. Both his mother and his grandmother held their faith deeply and shared it freely.
- How fertile is the environment in your family for the reproduction and the nurturing of authentic faith in the lives of your children and grandchildren? Mothers, are you passing along a legacy of authentic faith to your kids?
III. Thirdly we need to instill a Desire to Minister / Serve The third way to impact our children is to instill within them a desire to minister. After Paul preached in Lystra, and Timothy was converted, he returned a short while later. Let’s pick up the story in Acts 16:1-3: “He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey…” I see three qualities in Timothy that were no doubt passed down from his mother, and his grandmother:
A. First of all, he was a strong believer. He is referred to as a disciple. Luke, the author of Acts, could have referred to him as a believer or a Christian, but he chose to call him a disciple.
- A disciple is a learner and a follower. A disciple was one who was serious about Christ, not just one who was going through the motions. As we’ve already established, his mother modeled this type of authentic, no holds-barred kind of faith.
- Second, he had a good reputation. The believers in the area spoke well of him. People knew him as a man of integrity and as a man of the Word. He was rock solid. Again, this had a lot to do with his mother and grandmother.
- Third, he was available. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey. As you continue to read the Book of Acts, you’ll see that Timothy was eager to minister.
- He knew it meant leaving home and he knew it meant facing hardship. Friends, there is no way this kind of commitment to ministry develops if it has not been encouraged at home.
- Paul refers to Timothy as his “beloved son” in 1 Corinthians 4:17 and in 1 Timothy 1:2, he calls him his “own son in the faith.” In Philippians 2:20, Paul can’t think of anyone like Timothy when he writes: “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.” Paul thought very highly of Timothy and couldn’t wait to unleash him for ministry.
As adults, as parents - part of our job is to instill:
- a respect for the Bible,
- is to instill an authentic faith.
- But these two elements are only preliminary for the most important job we have that is instilling within your children a desire to minister.
- Our kids are to learn the Bible and grow in their faith so that they can become difference-makers in their world.
- So they can share their faith with others.
- So they can minister in the church and in their school.
- So they can serve those who are hurting.
- The truth of the matter is this: we are saved in order to serve.
- We are to be disciples so that we can disciple others. We are equipped so that we can evangelize. We are sanctified so that we can be sent to a lost and dying world.
-A Respect for Scripture
-An Authentic Faith
-A Desire for Ministry
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.