Parental influence in spiritual matters
"Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 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." (NIV) 2 Timothy 1:4-5
It is virtually impossible to overstate the importance of parental influence in spiritual matters. The familiar saying, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” is an adage clearly intended to emphasize maternal ability to shape young lives. The Scriptures provide ample testimony to the validity of that statement. Consider these reflections of Paul upon Timothy and his godly heritage "Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. 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." (2 Timothy 1:4-5). Two godly women had exhibited faith in God long before Timothy met the apostle Paul, and laid the groundwork of faith in his life.
What are we told about Timothy's faith? First, it was a genuine faith. The Scripture says it was unfeigned, meaning a lack of pretense, an absence of hypocrisy. It refers to that which is a true expression of one’s inner person as opposed to that which a person might take to himself or herself as part of an outer religious identity. In short, Timothy was the real deal. Note that this genuine faith was in Lois, Eunice, and Timothy. Jesus main bone of contention with the scribes and Pharisees was their obsession with the externals of religion, which left them internally and eternally destitute. Genuine faith will not bring accolades from society, nor acclaim from the academic community. It will, however, provide the one key essential to spiritual life, an audience with God.
Second, it was a gentle faith. Paul had a great desire to see Timothy, and spend time with him. They were like-minded. The phrase being mindful of thy tears suggests tenderness of heart and burden-bearing. It speaks of compassion and gentleness of soul. The words that I may be filled with joy suggest to us that, in Paul's mind, the next best thing to spending time with Jesus was spending time with those who were like Him. The net result is the same, fullness of joy. Gentle faith, as both tender and compassionate, is a joy to be around.
Third, it was robust and operative in the two prior generations. Adam, Abel, Seth, and Enos shared a common affinity for God and called upon His name. Abraham's influence upon Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph is legendary. It was Jesse who gave to Israel its greatest kings, David and Solomon. I firmly believe that God desires our faith to be unfeigned and to impact successive generations.
There is perhaps no greater heritage to be left by a parent than that of faith that is both genuine and gentle in nature. In all of our efforts to build wealth, and pass on to our children the benefits of our labor, let us be careful to maintain a godly influence and a faith that is unfeigned.