Happy Mother’s Day. I want to start by saying how grateful I am for my mom encouraging my walk with Christ, and I’m constantly grateful for how my wife Monica teaches our kids about Jesus. Today, in scripture, we see two examples of women who did the same thing. We’ve been in this series, Women in the Kingdom, and we’ve been looking at lots of women, wives, and mothers throughout the Bible. Today we’re going to look at a grandmother and a mother that Paul speaks really highly of. They are the grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice, of Timothy, Paul’s disciple. They love the Lord, and their deepest desire is that Timothy would love Jesus too. By God’s grace, he does, and this is how Paul talks of them.
2 Timothy 1:5 (NIV)
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.
This verse, if we look at it closely, tells us a little bit about why Timothy caught the faith from his mother and grandmother. And that’s what we hope for our children—that they would catch our faith in God too. My big idea is: A caught faith is a genuine, alive, and taught faith.
A caught faith is a genuine faith.
Paul, addressing Timothy, says, “I am reminded of your sincere faith.” But it didn’t come from Timothy; it came from his Lois and Eunice. The Greek word for “sincere” means “un-disguised.” I think I was about 13-14 when I watched The Phantom of the Opera for the first time. It’s all about the music and the mask. Who is the phantom who plays such amazing music but wears a mask? What is he covering? Why hide? He hides his face because he hides his scars. Eventually, he reveals his true face. Why do we hide? Is it our brokenness? We don’t want our kids to see who we really are? They see it, whether we want them to or not.
Lois and Eunice took got real with Timothy. They didn’t put on a show for him. They let Timothy see their genuine, messy, imperfect, real faith in God. They took off their masks. They let him see their scars—that they weren’t perfect, but Jesus loves them anyway. What I so appreciate about my mom’s faith, my mother-in-law’s faith, and my wife’s faith, is that each of their faith is genuine, and each of them is willing to be real with their kids.
A caught faith is not perfect faith. A caught faith is not an “I have it all together” faith. A caught faith is genuine, un-masked, un-hypocritical, willing to be real kind of faith. I see that in our church too. It makes me thankful for the moms and grandmothers in our church community.
A caught faith is a genuine and alive faith.
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice…” The word for “lived” is better translated as “dwelt.” A dwelling is a house or place where people live. Monica and I purchased our house eight years ago, and this week we’re about to put it on the market to sell it. And as I think about our house, we have a lot of memories there. We’ve eaten a lot of meals, had game nights with friends, broken glasses, finished the basement, and had firepits in our backyard. We’ve had two kids here. There’s been a lot of living in our home. Our home is our dwelling place.
What Paul is saying is that faith made its home in Lois and Eunice’s lives. It took up residence. It made a bunch of memories, on good days and bad days. Faith was present. Faith in God has been there through it all, living life with them. Sometimes when we think of an “alive faith,” we think of “being on fire for God.” Like going out and being a missionary or preaching on the curb. Those things matter. Those things are good. But that’s not how the Bible defines a living faith. Living faith is one that goes through life every day and seeks to know God, love him, and follow the Holy Spirit wherever he leads. That’s an alive faith. That’s a faith that dwells in us every day.
I want us to take a closer look at Eunice’s life. Eunice, Timothy’s mom, was Jewish, but his father was not. He was a Greek, a Gentile, and as far as we know, he didn’t believe in Jesus.
Acts 16:1 (NIV)
Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek.
I think there’s a lot to be encouraged by here. Eunice didn’t have the ideal Jesus-loving husband, and yet Timothy still saw her faith and wanted to take it as his own. This should be really encouraging for those wives who have husbands who aren’t where they need to be. You can’t control their faith, but you can live your faith every day, even in less-than-ideal circumstances, and that is enough. We don’t actually know if Lois, Timothy’s grandmother, was Eunice’s mother or mother-in-law. I say that just to point out that mothers-in-law, or families that don’t look ideal, can be faithful witnesses too.
The first two things Lois and Eunice did aren’t that revolutionary in some ways, and in others, they are. They were genuine in their faith, and they lived their faith daily. That’s all something we can do. That’s something I’m already seeing the moms of Cornerstone do. And I want to encourage you in that. Good job. Keep going. Some days it’s easy. On other days it’s hard. Just keep genuine faith and live that genuine faith every day, through the good days and the hard days. And for my complete big idea:
A caught faith is a genuine, alive, and taught faith.
Later, in Paul’s second letter to Timothy, who has become a pastor at Ephesus, he writes:
2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The third thing that helped Timothy take ownership of his faith, become a Christian, and follow Jesus, is that Lois and Eunice taught him the scriptures from childhood. That means not just the New Testament, which they might not have even had access to yet, but the Old Testament too. They taught him the Bible, and over time, Timothy became convinced that it was true. Now Paul encourages him to remember those who taught him, including Lois and Eunice. Paul taught him too (1 Corinthians 4:17).
But Lois and Eunice don’t just read Bible stories to Timothy. When they become believers, they show him how those stories point to Christ. These two women had a powerful effect on Timothy’s life as they taught him the scriptures, were genuine about their faith, and their everyday lives showed that faith.
As a father, I need to teach my kids the Bible too. I love reading the children’s Bible to my kids, but sometimes it’s just easier to do other things. Most of the time. It takes some concerted effort, especially connecting it to Jesus and really showing how the Bible points to him. It’s something we’re learning, and it takes time. A caught faith is a genuine, alive, and taught faith
When I think about my own testimony, I said the prayer with my mom. One day I decided I wanted to be a Christian like my brothers, so my mom and I knelt down beside our old blue couch, and we prayed to invite Jesus into my life. I’m so glad I had a Eunice, in my case, an Ellen, telling me about Jesus and wanting to see me believe in him. But it didn’t stop there. My mom kept praying for me and teaching me for the rest of my life, and she still is. Her prayers help me believe in Jesus to this day.
And that’s the best gift our moms want, isn’t it? Children who follow Christ. And if your kids aren’t there yet, don’t give up. We can be genuine, have real faith, and teach the Bible, but our children make their own choices. But you never know, given time, what the Holy Spirit might do. Some of you don’t have biological or adopted children, but you still have the opportunity to have spiritual sons and daughters, to find someone and mentor them to know and love Jesus Christ better. Pray about it. Risk yourself. Invite someone into a spiritual mentor relationship. Everyone in this room can do it with someone else.
Jesus loved his mother. As he hung on the cross, he made sure to provide for her:
John 19:25-29 (NIV)
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
One of the last things Jesus did while hanging on the cross was to provide for his mother and to give her away. The disciple John took her into his home and cared for Mary for the rest of his life. John is the only disciple who died of old age and not a martyr’s death. Maybe there’s a connection.
Jesus gave his mother away so that you and I could know the deep love, some might even call it the motherly love, of God (Hosea 11:3-4). God loves us with compassion, mercy, tenderness, and care, and it’s because he turned his back on Jesus. Jesus had to lose his Father’s love so that you and I could receive it. Abandoned. Forsaken. Alone. So that you and I can be welcomed, family, loved, and whole again. Moms, you are loved. Jesus loves you. Thanks for being genuine, alive, and teaching your kids the faith. Let’s pray.
Pastor Jonathan Romig preached this sermon at Cornerstone Congregational Church in Westford, MA. You can listen to his other sermons at CornerstoneWestford.com.
By Henry Le Jeune – http://www.bridgemanartondemand.com/artist/3603/Henry_Le_Jeune, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8393999
Service & Sermon
Ice-Breaker – Tell us one thing you love about your biological, adopting, and/or spiritual mother.
Prayer – Let’s take a moment to pray and thank God for these mothers.
Bible – Read again 2 Timothy 1:5, Acts 16:1, and 2 Timothy 3:14-15. What do we see about Timothy, Lois, and Eunice? What types of things did Timothy’s mother and grandmother teach him?
Application – What’s one way you can bless a biological, adoptive, or spiritual mom in your life?
Recap – What’s your one-sentence takeaway from today?
Thanks for listening to this past Sunday’s sermon about Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother. They are great examples of the Christian faith and disciple-makers of Timothy. I don’t have many follow-up resources, but Got Questions has a nice article summarizing everything we know about Lois and Eunice. You can read that here if you’d like. I hope you each had a wonderful Mother’s Day. God bless!