May 12, 2013-Mother’s Day-A Heritage Witnessed
Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:1-7
This is the second letter we have from Paul to Timothy and it is a very personal letter from a man later in life to a younger man just getting started in ministry. There great moments of encouragement and instruction. Paul calls Timothy his dear son. Timothy is Paul’s son in the ministry he is a young man who Paul is pouring his life into Timothy. When we think about Paul’s example this can and should be an example for all Christians to consider how we might be able to pour ourselves into others whether they are our children are or not. Those who are newer in the faith can learn from the pitfalls we have endured and be encouraged during their own times of difficulty.
I mention Paul’s relationship with Timothy because we can all be spiritual mothers and fathers to newer Christians helping them during their journey with Christ. In the body of Christ we need both the energy and vitality of youth and the experience of dedication faithful Christians. This is the beauty and diversity of the body of Christ that God intends for His Bride to be with both wiser and less experienced journeying together through this life together. It is a spiritual heritage that is at stake. Today we may wonder why so many churches are closing their doors and becoming places of the past rather than light and hope for the future. When those coming into the church as either seekers or new Christians do not witness that faith on display then the heritage is lost and is never more than one or two generations from extinction.
I am not telling you this to depress you or to paint a bleak picture, but rather to help us understand the vital role each of us plays in encouraging those newer in the faith. In pouring our lives and hearts into them we are helping them to grow to maturity in Christ. When we are growing in maturity in Christ we are also growing in unity with one another as the body of Christ. Remember Jesus said of the church that if its foundation was right then the church will grow and mature and that the not even the Gates of Hell would prevail against it. How confident do you feel about your church? Are we becoming a better, stronger body of Christ day by day that the Gates of Hell stand no chance?
It begins by securing our faith in Jesus Christ and being willing to grow and mature in faith. Second, it is out of this maturity that we seek to help others who are newer in their faith and those who still need to come to faith. It is not just about talking and teaching although that is truly a part of it, but is about witnessing the faith of others lived out. This is truly the value and secret to the body of Christ although it is really no secret at all. The strength and benefit of the body of Christ is that during difficult times of crisis we can be strengthened through the example of the other faithful around us. This comes through encouraging words but often it comes more readily in the powerful presence that has brought some of these spiritual brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers through those difficult times.
A spiritual heritage cannot be witnessed if there is no life of Christ within us. We cannot share or give testimony to that which we do not know. Then we need to help others to come to faith and then to mature in faith. The ideal circumstance for this growth is not the church although it can flourish in the church, but it is in the home. It has been said that the mother is the emotional thermostat of a home. People have said things like if mama isn’t happy, no one is happy. Happy wife equals happy life, and so on. The father may be referred to as the spiritual head of the home, but I would like to argue that the mother is the heart. It is often times the selfless actions of a mother that are witnessed time and again in the home that help each of us to experience some of the greatest gifts of God. For many of our it was our mothers that showed us unconditional love, extended us grace and mercy, encouraged us through some of our most difficult days, and would speak the difficult truths in love to us always to bring about reconciliation in their homes.
The Apostle Paul speaks of the spiritual heritage of his forefathers that he witnessed and now in that same tradition he is pouring his life into people like young Timothy. Paul mentions a much deeper and personal heritage that he witnesses at work in Timothy and that is of his grandmother and mother, Lois and Eunice. It was these godly women who helped to raise and shape the spiritual identity of Timothy. Paul knows Lois and Eunice and recognizes their lives in the life of Timothy. He is the young man they have helped him to grow in faith to be. Prayer is part of it but is much more what our spiritual and/or biological children see us living out of our faith.
Parents if we want our children to grow to be more Christ-like then we must seek to be more Christ-like. We cannot and should not leave anything to chance our children’s spiritual development is not the work of someone else it is first and primarily our responsibility. These two women were mentioned by Paul because he could easily see their faith in their grandson and son, Timothy. If our children are a reflection of what they see that what is that reflection? Discipleship, in the most traditional sense and is true in raising children or grandchildren begins with instruction, is modeled through example, and encouraged through imitation. Please don’t stop with instruction alone, but model a life of faith worthy of imitation and encourage them to imitate Christ as you, yourself are seeking to do.
Paul says to Timothy to fan the flames of his faith and his calling. Challenging him not to run away during difficult times but to run to Jesus and trust Him completely. It is in having a spiritual heritage through a spiritual father like Paul and a spiritual heritage passed down from his mother and grandmother that Timothy has been given many great blessings for his faithful journey that lies ahead. This journey of faith may be difficult at times but as Paul reminds Timothy we are not giving a spirit of fear or timidity but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Many parents and grandparents today want the best for their children and grandchildren. They will prepare them by sending them to school, teaching them to play a sport, helping them to learn manners, helping them to get a good job, and become self-sufficient. We prepare for their futures by putting money away, buying life insurance policies and things of this nature. There is no “real” insurance for their lives or ours except trusting in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Too often we have taught our children to be self-sufficient rather than God dependent, and they have learned this very well.
What do our children see when the look at our lives of faith? It is most likely that example that they will learn to follow, give, serve, love, share, and find hope for their faith in difficult times. We are passing on a heritage to our children not just in what they hear us say but how we live. Is the heritage that they are witnessing a heritage of faith?