The gospel is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it typically comes to us incarnationally. Someone not only speaks the gospel message to us, but lives the gospel message before us. In some families, that ‘gospel liver’ was Grandma. At least it was in the case of Timothy.
In 2 Timothy 1:5 Paul writes of Timothy’s genuine or sincere faith. While others feigned belief, Timothy had trusted the Saviour. His faith was not merely a one time confession of trust but a living reality which impacted all aspects of his life.
Paul had known this young man and had recruited him as a member of the apostolic church-planting team when he first crossed paths with this teenager. It seems Timothy’s father, who is cited as ‘a Greek,’ did not possess genuine faith. Nevertheless, his Grandma Lois and his mother Eunice had taught through word and deed the importance of trusting in Jesus Christ. In chapter 3:14-17 of this same letter, Paul notes the blessing Timothy has enjoyed of ‘knowing the holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise unto salvation,’ from infancy.
What roles do grandparents have in modeling genuine faith? That question has more significance than ever for me, since three ‘kidlets’ call me ‘Grandpa.’ What do they see of Christ in me? They are young, but very prone to imitation. I’m amazed at how much they copy.
Timothy had copied his mother’s and his grandmother’s sincere faith. I’m sure these two women scarcely realized that they were raising one of the key leaders for the church in Ephesus. Quietly, yet clearly, they taught this young boy the Scriptures. Did they take him to the synagogue? How much of the Scriptures were they able to install in this young mind? How often did they pray for him and with him? What questions did Timothy have? Where was Timothy’s grandpa and dad in the process?
In the process of mentoring, let’s explore those who left both a positive and negative impact upon us. Let’s pray diligently for creative ways to pass the faith along to the next generation. It may be years before we see ‘results,’ but may some Christian leader, in speaking to our grandchildren, refer to ‘the sincere faith’ which first lived in your grandmother ______ and in your mother and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
I conclude with a poem that reflects this theme –
The Gospel According to You
If none but you in the world today Had tried to live the Christlike way,
Could the rest of the world look close at you And find the path that is strait and true?
If none but you in the world so wide Had found the Christ for his daily guide,
Would the things you do and the things you say Lead others to live in His blessed way?
Ah, friends of the Christ, in the world today Are many who watch you upon your way,
And look to the things you say and do To measure the Christian standard true:
Men read and admire the Gospel of Christ With its love so unfailing and true,
But what do they say and what do they think Of the gospel according to you?
You are writing each day a letter to men Take care that the writing is true;
‘Tis the only gospel that some men will read, That gospel according to you.