Faith of Our Mothers
Faith of our Mothers
2 Tim. 1:1-5; 2 Tim. 3:12-17
May 14, 2006
Let’s begin with some poignant words from Reader’s Digest: “On Mother’s Day I went to Sunday School with my grandchildren, Jill and Josh. Gifts were presented to the oldest mother, to the mother with the most children, to the grandmother with the most grandchildren, and then the great-grandmothers were asked to identify themselves. Six year-old Jill whispered, “Grandma, raise your hand.”
I tried to explain to her that I wasn’t yet a great-grandmother.
“But, Grandma, you are great!” she protested.
Do you know what day it is today? That’s right it’s Mother’s Day! Here it’s a day to give mothers the recognition they deserve, but don’t often get.
In some countries they take Mother’s Day a little more seriously than we do. For example, President BoKassa of the Central African Republic celebrated Mother's Day in 1971 by ordering the execution of all men jailed for crimes against their mothers. What do you think, should we try that in Canada?
The "Mother's Day" concept has a long history of religious connections which in modern times seem to have been predominantly Christian.
In ancient Greece, the idea of paying tribute to motherhood was given expression with a regular festival tantamount to mother-worship. Formal ceremonies to Cybele, or Rhea, the "Great Mother of the Gods," were performed on the Ides of March throughout Asia Minor.
For Christianity, the concept seems to date back to establishment of England's "Mothering Sunday," a custom of the people which provided that one attend the mother church in which he was baptized on Mid-Lent Sunday. Gifts were to be offered at the altar to the church and to worshippers' mothers. The concept was divorced of any "mother worship," but nevertheless perpetuated its religious association.
North American observance of Mother's Day, too, has been characterized by church ties from the start. The first general observance of the occasion was in the churches of Philadelphia after Miss Anne Jarvis campaigned for a holiday for mothers more than 50 years ago.
Of Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul could say,, with unaffected frankness, (Phil. 2:20), "There is no one like Timothy." What in Timothy justified such a commendation? Part of the answer is given in our text; recalling Timothy's sterling qualities, in 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul singles out his "unfeigned faith" for special mention and then immediately affirms that this faith dwelt first in Timothy's grandmother Lois, and in his mother Eunice. Paul implies that but for the faith found in Lois and Eunice it is unlikely that there would have been any faith found in Timothy! We have here, then, the faith of three generations—Lois, Eunice and Timothy. What a commentary this is on the faith of our mothers! So, let’s turn to 2 Timothy 1:1-5:
This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.
It is written to Timothy, my dear son. May God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.
Timothy, I thank God for you. He is the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. And I will be filled with joy when we are together again.
I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois.
Turn over another couple of pages and we’ll also read 2 Timothy 3:12-17: “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will go on deceiving others, and they themselves will be deceived.
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.
You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.
It is God's way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.”
I. A Mother's Faith Is Convictional
" I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois. " (2 Tim. 1:5). A study of Acts 16:1 which says Paul and Silas went first to Derbe and then on to Lystra. There they met Timothy, a young disciple whose mother was a Jewish believer, but whose father was a Greek. , together with 2 Tim. 1 which we’ve just read and 2 Tim. 3:14 which adds But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. , makes it plain that these two women enjoyed a faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ which was both scriptural and saving, a good example of the nature of convictional faith.
1) It Is a Faith Which Is Scripturally Sound
Both these mothers knew " You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. " (2 Tim. 3:15). They could have never taught Timothy these sacred writings if they had not been acquainted with them personally. Such study of the Holy Scriptures had begotten in them a God-centered faith. And this is how it always is, for the Bible says, " Yet faith comes from listening to this message of good news—the Good News about Christ. " (Romans 10:17). Above tradition and secular literature, they prized most highly the final authority in all matters of faith and practice, namely, the Holy Scriptures.
It is important for a wife and mother to live in the Scriptures day by day. But, we won’t have a quiet time with God unless we purposely arrange it. So plan a place and a time when you will read your Bible each day. Put it on the calendar as an appointment. It is a meeting with a Person just as much as any other appointment you might make. It is a meeting with God. A time to communicate with your Maker!
Our prayer life suffers when we do not set aside a time and place for prayer. Much praying is not done because we do not plan to pray. We do not drift into spiritual life . . . We will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray. That means intentionally setting aside time to do nothing but pray.
An African chief wanted to know the secret of Britain's greatness. Queen Victoria, holding a Bible in her hand, said, "Tell the chief that this book, the Bible, is the secret of our greatness."
2) It Is a Faith Which Is Savingly Sure
They taught Timothy "the holy Scriptures which are able to make…wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:15). From Acts 16:1 it appears that both Timothy's mother and grandmother were introduced to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ on Paul's second missionary journey. Eunice is there described as a Jewish woman who "believed." Their background of scriptural knowledge had wonderfully prepared them for the message of salvation through Paul the Apostle.
Here, then, were two mothers who had a convictional faith, grounded in the Word of God and related to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Nothing is needed more in our land today than women who have this quality of faith.
Lord Shaftesbury once said: "Give me a generation of Christian mothers and I will undertake to change the whole face of society in twelve months."
II. A Mother's Faith Is Communicable
" I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois. But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. " (2 Tim. 1:5; 2 Tim. 3:14). There is no one who can communicate the deep things of life on a daily basis like a godly mother. The father certainly has a responsibility of leadership, both by way of example and instruction, but invariably it is the mother who makes the deepest impression on a child, especially in the years of infancy.
After dinner on Mother’s Day a mother was washing the dishes when her teenage daughter wandered into the kitchen. Horrified to see her mother at the sink, she exclaimed, “Oh, Mama, you shouldn’t have to do dishes on Mother’s Day.” The mother was touched by this seeming thoughtfulness and was about to take off her apron and give it to her daughter when the daughter added, “They’ll keep till tomorrow.”
1) Faith Is Communicated by Personal Education
" But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you." (2 Tim. 3:14). From his earliest days, Timothy was taught the Holy Scriptures. This sense of duty to communicate the Word of God was rooted in God's instruction to His ancient people. In other words, the devout Israelite taught his children because Jehovah commanded him to do so.
Proverbs 6:20, 21 says “My son, obey your father's commands, and don't neglect your mother's teaching.
Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck.” And in 7:1-3 “Follow my advice, my son; always treasure my commands.
Obey them and live! Guard my teachings as your most precious possession.
Tie them on your fingers as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” And, in Proverbs 22:6: “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it.”
It’s crystal clear, then, that one of a mother’s (and father’s) job is to provide their children with training and instruction. If parents want godly children, guess who’s going to train them? How about it Moms – any ideas?
Not that there aren’t any other factors at work in a child’s life, but the first and most important is the modeling of a godly life from mom and dad. Other than our own salvation and the relationship between husband and wife, I don’t believe that there’s anything else we do that’s so important.
The preacher G. Campbell Morgan had four sons, all of whom were preachers. The youngest son, Howard, considered a fine preacher, once took his father’s place on this side of the Atlantic while Dr. Morgan preached in London. Someone came into the drawing room when the family was there and, thinking to find out what Howard was made of, asked this question: “Howard, who is the greatest preacher in your family?” Without a moment’s hesitation he answered, “My mother.” Sometimes men and women who never stand at a pulpit preach the greatest sermons through living out the Word in their daily lives.
2) Faith Is Communicated by Practical Demonstration
" But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. " (2 Tim. 3:14). While Paul undoubtedly includes himself, his primary thought is that of Lois and Eunice. Timothy had seen something in their lives that demonstrated the reality of the faith they taught.
John Newton, in his most profligate days, could never forget his mother at whose knees he had learned to pray, but who was, taken to heaven when he was only eight years old. My mother’s God, the God of mercy, have mercy upon me!" was often his agonizing prayer when in danger or in trouble. That prayer was gloriously answered—not only in Newton's life, but also in his subsequent ministry.
In another family, such was the impression that Susannah Wesley made on her son, John, that she has been called "The mother of Methodism."
III. A Mother's Faith Is Commendable
Paul says, " I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois.” (2 Tim. 1:5). Some have suggested that Paul actually stayed in Timothy's home during the second missionary journey. If that was so, then quite obviously he was impressed with what he saw in the lives of both Lois and Eunice. While it was his privilege to bring to consummation their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Master, he could never forget the religious faith and piety which were already evident in their lives.
1) The Lasting Influence About a Mother's Faith
" I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois. " (2 Tim. 1:5). Has it ever occurred to you that the most priceless treasure a man or woman can have is faith? The world may cry, "What is a man without money?" but the Christian replies, "What is a man without faith?" Remember, the only thing by which all the heroes of the Old Testament are remembered, in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, is their faith. Like a refrain, we read it in verse after verse: "By faith Abel" (Hebrews 11:4), "By faith Enoch" (2 Hebrews 11:5), "Through faith…Sara" (Hebrews 11:11), "By faith …Rahab" (Hebrews 11:31), and so on.
F. B. Meyer once said: "It is not the quantity of faith, but the quality of faith, that is important. A grain of mustard seed and a pellet of dust are similar in appearance, but the difference is immense. The one has no life burning at the heart of it, while the other contains life as God kindled it. Faith that has in it the principle of life is a faith with God in it."
2) The Living Relevance About a Mother's Faith
”I know that you sincerely trust the Lord, for you have the faith of your mother, Eunice, and your grandmother, Lois. " (2 Tim. 1:5). Times may change and fashions may alter, but mothers are never out of date! There is a living relevance about a mother's faith because no one in all the world adapts herself to the day in which she lives like a mother with her little children. Someone has said that "a space-age mother needs to keep her feet on ground and her heart in the heavens. The man on the moon will never replace the man in the home with a dedicated mother working with him to raise a Christian family."
To Illustrate, let me read you the following article from Our Daily Bread:
“William McKinley, as a lawyer, congressman, Governor of Ohio, and President of the United States, kept in touch with his mother every day.
When he didn't see her, he wrote or telegraphed. In mid-October of 1897, he quietly left the White House and took a train to Canton just so he could walk to church with her again. When she became ill, he arranged to have a special train standing by at full steam, ready to take him to her bedside. Then one night she did call for him. Immediately he wired, 'Tell Mother I'll be there.' Mrs. McKinley died December 12, 1897, in the arms of her 54-year-old son. Her gentle, Christian virtues helped mold the President's character, for when he was gunned down in Buffalo, New York, about 4 years later, he showed no bitterness toward his assassin. With Christian courage he said, 'God's will be done.' Before he died, he asked to hear once again the hymn, 'Nearer, My God, to Thee,' which his mother had taught him.”
Let us see to it that the mothers of our generation know a faith in God's Word and in His Son Jesus Christ which is convictional, communicable and commendable. Only then can we sing:
“Faith of our mothers! living still, In spite of dark'ning days of doubt O how our beings glow and thrill, When that word "faith" is sounded out! Faith of our mothers! gift of grace,
Born of the Spirit from on high;
Nourished by Scripture, strong to face,
Forces of evil when they’re nigh.
Faith of our mothers! Lord preserve,
This priceless treasure to us all;
That through our families we may serve
Duty or danger when they call.
So bless our mothers! every one,
Bless them for holy faith and love;
God bless them now for work well done,
Then honor them in realms above.”