There is much to learn from a special family. I am referring to the family of Timothy and from it will learn the importance of faithfulness in the things that we believe to be true and pass them on to posterity. As the saying goes, “Love begets love.” So, believe that “Faithfulness begets faithfulness.” From our father Abraham, we learn the foundation of a strong family – Faith In The Lord Our God. From Job, we learn the value of persevering and patient faith. And from the priest Eli, we learn the consequence of negligent faith or faltering faith. Today, from Timothy’s family we will learn the value of faithful faith.
2 Timothy 1:3-7
3I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5I 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. 6For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
From our passage, we discovered that Timothy was a third generation Christian in the family. He was a product of the faith of his mother Lois and his grandmother Eunice. Now, from Acts 16, we learn that Timothy was not a pure Jew because his father was a Greek or Gentile and only his mother Lois was a Jewish and a believer in the Lord. The Bible did not say whether his father was also a believer but it seemed that he was a believer noting that there was no opposition or restriction given to Timothy especially when he decided to join Paul in his missionary trips.
Let me now share two important lessons from Timothy’s family…
A. True Saving Faith Can Be Passed On To Our Future Generations.
The first important lesson that we can learn from Timothy’s family as far as faith is concerned is that our faith can be passed on to our future generations. Our Faith today has immediate as well as future consequences. In fact, our faith will directly and greatly affect the lives of our children and their children’s children. Two things can be observed from Paul’s thoughts about our true saving faith.
1) True saving faith can be PRACTICALLY DEMONSTRATED to others.
One is that true saving faith can be practically demonstrated. Verse 5 tells us that as Paul was reflecting on the “sincere” or “un-hypocritical” faith of Timothy, he was reminded of his mother Lois as well as his grandmother, Eunice. Notice that Paul observed it; that is; HE SAW IT. He saw it lived out in their everyday fellowship and living. Our faith can be demonstrated because true saving faith produces the fruit of the Holy Spirit. And the fruit of the Spirit are actually character traits or attitudes that we can develop in our life. Like patience or longsuffering or perseverance, kindness, love, goodness, joy. These are actually attitudes that reveals our heart that is our faith especially during times of adversity and testings.
Remember that our children imitate our behavior as well as our attitudes whenever we react to problems or to every situation in our lives.
2) True saving faith can be a POSITIVE INFLUENCE to our posterity as well as our society.
In fact, our faith can be a positive influence to our posterity as well as our society. This was best illustrated by a study made between two families of different backgrounds and spirituality.
Meet Rev. Jonathan Edwards. He was born in a Christian home. His father was a preacher and before him his mother’s father. This study traced the history of his 1,394 descendants and they found out the following:
14 College Presidents
100 College professors
100 ministers or pastors
100 lawyers and judges
295 college graduate
3 U.S. Senators
3 elected state governors
1 Dean of the Law School
1 Dean of Medical School
75 Military Officers
100 well-known missionaries, teachers and authors
80 Public Officials (3 of which were mayors of large cities)
1 Comptroller of the US Treasury
1 Vice-President of the United States
The rest were successful citizens of the country
Take note that none of Jonathan Edwards’ descendants cost the United States government any money. Not one cent was spent upon the correction of the lives of these 1,394 descendants.
What this illustration teaches us is that you and I have the power to influence our future generations–either for the good or the bad.
Meet the Jukes Family. The research was also made into the history of one criminal family known as the Jukes family. A total of 1,200 descendants have been traced of his family tree of which:
400 physically self-wrecked
310 professional paupers or poor
130 convicted criminals
60 habitual thieves and pick-pockets
7 convicted murderers
100 known drunkards
The rest were of his descendants were prostitutes
Take note that the descendants of Max Jukes cost the United States government more than $1.25 million during the 19th century. Most of that amount was spent on their imprisonment in an effort to rehabilitate them into productive citizens.
The lesson is clear: Our faith today will directly and greatly affect our posterity as well as their society. But it will depend on our faithfulness and determination today. The second lesson we learn from Timothy’s family is this…
B. True Saving Faith Is Beneficial And Useful To The Lord’s Ministry.
Paul, being the spiritual father of Timothy in the faith and discipler, had discerned that Timothy’s faith was genuine and has the potential to be fruitful in the Lord’s work. So, he encouraged him to continue to be faithful in the Lord and to be fruitful in the Lord’s work. Paul mentioned two important factors that will ensure Timothy’s fruitfulness as well as ours in the Lord’s ministry.
1) We have been given the CHARISMA of God.
The first is because of the spiritual gifts or charisma of God. God has gifted us of at least one gift as a believer. Paul is referring to the gift Timothy received from the Lord when Paul laid his hands on him. The gift was not mentioned but I think the gift is teaching or preaching. Listen to what Paul taught us in his letter to the Ephesians:
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:11-13).
God has given the church two gifts: gifted men and spiritual gifts. In Rom. 12 after exhorting the believers to consecrate their lives to the Lord, encourage them to know and use their spiritual gifts:
6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Rom. 12:6-8).
Now, how can you know your spiritual gift? Be involved in the ministries of the church and the Lord will show you your gift. Certain Criteria: You enjoy it. Others enjoy it. Both you and the ministry are blessed.
2) We have been given the CHARACTER/FRUIT of the Holy Spirit.
The second factor that ensures our fruitfulness as well as faithfulness in the Lord and His work is the FRUIT OR CHARACTER GIFT OF THE SPIRIT. In verse 7 Paul shows us this truth:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline (v. 7).
In fact, Peter reveals to us that by the presence of the Spirit in our life, God’s very nature has been shared to us by God:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (2 Peter 1:3-4).
So, Paul is teaching us that we have the character or the ability to be fruitful and useful for the Lord’s kingdom. You and I have can be a blessing to the Lord’s ministry as we fulfill our part of knowing and using or applying our spiritual gifts as well as developing our character to be like Christ. Selfless. Sacrificial. Faithful and Fruitful for the Kingdom.
Therefore, we do not just live for ourselves. The quality of our faith today will directly and greatly affect the quality of faith as well as the quality of life, our children and their children will have in the future.
This message was delivered by Dr. Valentino Natcher last March 14, 2010 at Emmanuel Church Ministries International at Makati City, Philippines