Godly Generations

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am 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. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:3-7 (NIV)

As a Jew, Paul had been taught faith in the true God and the proper way to worship Him. When he became a Christian, he did not abandon those teachings, but discovered the fulfillment of Judaism. A Christian upbringing and a spiritual family atmosphere are decided advantages. Timothy’s mother Eunice, and his grandmother Lois, communicated their faith to Timothy.
What’s the best way to do this? How can we best share the faith from one generation to another? Paul writes, “as my ancestors did” in verse 3. There’s a great deal of meaning packed into these words, and by unpacking it, we see what’s important in passing the faith from one generation to another.

In Romans 3 Paul wrote, “Is there any advantage, then, in being a Jew? Or is there any value in being circumcised? 2 There are all kinds of advantages. First of all, God entrusted them with his word” (3:1-2 GW), and then later in Romans he added, “Those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Romans 9:3-5, NIV).

The emphasis is not on how good his ancestors were, or the traditions they had, but how true the message they had was. Jesus said, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39). Paul encourages families to know and grow in the truth of God’s Word, keeping the focus on Jesus Christ. One of the best ways to do this is to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, so that it causes us to grow into an example in our families of the love, forgiveness and grace that is in Christ. That fulfills what Christ taught: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24, NIV).