What should we learn from the life of Timothy?
Timothy, the recipient of the two New Testament letters bearing his name, was the son of a Greek father and a Jewish mother. He joined Paul during one of Paul’s later missionary journeys. Paul addresses Timothy in his first letter to him as “my true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). He was probably no older than late teens/early twenties when he joined Paul, but had already distinguished himself as faithful, so that the elders noticed him. He probably heard the gospel when Paul came through the area on his first missionary journey, but we don’t know for sure. Timothy served as Paul’s representative to several churches (1 Corinthians 4:17; Philippians 2:19), and he was later a pastor in Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3).
Paul says Timothy had a “genuine faith,” the same as that which lived in his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:1-5). Eunice and Lois prepared Timothy to accept Christ when he heard of Him by teaching him the Old Testament Scriptures and preparing him “from infancy” to recognize the Messiah when He appeared (2 Timothy 3:15). When Paul came preaching Christ, all three accepted his teaching and committed their lives to the Savior. We must prepare our children to be ready when Christ knocks on the door of their hearts. They must know how to recognize that pull on their spirits as coming from the Savior, and the only way to do that is to follow the example of Eunice and Lois and teach our children the Word of God.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he warns Timothy about the false teachers that he will encounter and tells him to continue in the things he has learned because he knows the character of those he learned them from, namely Paul himself and his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 3:14-15). These three lived the truth which they knew. They didn’t just preach one thing and live another. Our children watch how we live out our faith more than they listen to what we say about our faith. “Do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t work for children. The truths Timothy was taught from infancy were able to make him “wise for salvation,” which are the truths about sin and our need for a Savior. As parents, we are to follow the godly example of Eunice and Lois and prepare our children to hear the Lord calling to them and to distinguish truth from error.