The Legacy of Faith
He never taught in a classroom, but he was one of the best teachers I’ve ever known. An actuary by profession, he excelled at asking questions, and to my great frustration as a teenager, he directed his questions at me. I would eventually paint myself into a corner of my own contradictions. He wouldn’t say, “Ha! There’s a gap in your logic!” Instead, he would respond, “Think about it because the two things you said can’t go together. God will guide you as you decide which one is true.” That man had a huge influence in my life. He was my dad.
In my last post (link), we looked at the apostle Paul’s last letter to Timothy, his son in the faith and a young pastor. He affirms Timothy’s life as a godly one and, in 2 Timothy 3, lists all the ways that Timothy has learned from him:
- his teaching. Paul was the greatest church planter, the greatest missionary, the most prolific New Testament writer. He knew what he was talking about.
- his conduct. Timothy watched Paul up close. He saw how Paul responded when things went well and when they were difficult.
- his aim in life. Paul’s focus was taking the gospel to the world, especially where it had never gone before.
- his faith. Timothy saw Paul’s faith in every circumstance. In difficult situations with no human solution, Paul took the next step forward.
- his patience. Paul was patient. Instead of berating a corrupt church like the Corinthians, he told them about their identity in Christ: they were chosen, bought with a price, a royal priesthood, and more.
- his love. Even though he was driven, Paul was highly relational. He wrote to individuals and thanked and prayed for them. Timothy was a prime example.
- his steadfastness. Paul didn’t quit. He kept on going.
- his persecution and sufferings. Paul suffered persecution throughout his ministry and reminded his readers that it’s normal in the Christian life.
Paul encourages Timothy to keep applying what he has learned. His young friend has had a great start, but he must finish strong too.
Timothy’s (Other) Teachers
Paul urged Timothy to remember his childhood education. His grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice taught him the faith, which led to his salvation.
Scripture doesn’t mention his father and grandfather, but we know that these two women faithfully poured into the life of young Timothy. Before there were governments, schools, or churches, God designed the family as the greatest place of influence.
When I was eight, my family visited Mount Rushmore one summer. I remember sitting on a rock, and the heat from it burned the back of my legs. The giant sculpture was amazing.
Its purpose is to memorialize, in granite, four people with key roles in our country’s history. George Washington represents our nation’s birth; Thomas Jefferson, its growth; Theodore Roosevelt, its development; and Abraham Lincoln, its preservation.
Now, I have a couple of questions for you.
- If you were to carve your own Mount Rushmore, who are the four people who have impacted your life the most by their teaching and example? Especially, who has built the Word of God into your life? At most, choose one preacher, but pick people from different spheres in your life.
I found this to be a big challenge. After starting out with eight people, I finally cut it down to four.
If yours are still living, take time to tell them what they mean to you. Make a call, write a note, send an email. If they’re no longer living, journal about it. Write down for yourself what they meant to you and what they taught you.
- Now, whose life are you pouring into? Who needs focused input from your life to draw them to God and His Word? Who needs you to teach and model the Scriptures for them? Maybe it’s your kids or grandkids or someone in your church.
Write those names down. Think of the future carving and chiseling that’s yet to be done in that person’s life.
And if your children aren’t interested in the faith, remember that the last chapter of their story hasn’t been written yet. Don’t give up on them.
Pour It Out
How did we originally get God’s Word? He poured it through people, and He still does. A tiny minority of them stand behind a pulpit. The vast majority have quiet but enduring impact in businesses, schools, neighborhoods, and most of all, in homes.
It’s been said that values are more caught than taught, and that’s true for Timothy and for us.
Let’s celebrate those who spoke into our lives and ask God to show us whose lives we can pour into. He can use us, like Paul, Lois, and Eunice, to teach the young Timothys around us.