Commentary by Walter Albritton


February 5, 2006


Share Your Faith So that Others May Embrace the Faith


2 Timothy 1:3-14


Key Verse: I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. – 2 Timothy 1:5


          The Christian faith stays alive and well because it is handed down from one generation to the next. That is frightening news as well as good news. Frightening news because Christianity is never but one generation away from extinction. Good news because the plan of passing the faith on has worked well for two thousand years.

          Paul realized that he was nearing the end of his journey. He wanted his son in the faith, Timothy, to understand how the faith had been transmitted to him – from his grandmother to his mother and finally to Timothy.

          This was a humble and gracious acknowledgement for Paul to make. The apostle could have claimed credit for Timothy’s conversion. Paul did not. He paid a great tribute to Timothy’s mother and grandmother. They modeled the faith before Timothy so winsomely that the young man found it easy to embrace the faith of his family.

          Paul was satisfied with the role God gave him – to mentor Timothy as a leader in the young church and help him develop and use the gifts God had given him. Timothy obviously admired Paul greatly and eagerly accepted the apostle’s invitation to share his missionary ministry. The two men shared a strong bond that was mutually beneficial.

          I am an old man now but I remember well the joy of being nurtured in the faith by older men whose ministry I admired. I owe such a great debt to those who so graciously mentored me and helped me to believe that I could become an effective minister of Christ. Some of them died before I got around to expressing my gratitude for their ministry to me.

          As I look back I hope that I have paid that debt somewhat by trying to serve as a good role model for younger ministers and mentoring some who have sought my counsel. Perhaps we mentor best by our example and not as much by our teaching as we might like to think. The men I would name as my mentors were those who influenced me by their integrity and their personal devotion to Christ. I saw in them the kind of disciple I wanted to become. That was surely true for Timothy as he journeyed with his mentor and friend Paul.

          Like Timothy I had a godly grandmother and a mother who passed the faith on to me. Both of my mother’s parents were Christians and both taught Sunday school classes at one time. My maternal grandfather was a staunch Presbyterian and his wife, Neva Carmichael Johnson, a devout Baptist. As Lois was a name of honor in Timothy’s family, so was the name Neva in my family.

          My grandmother named one of her daughters Neva and she was a strong Christian. Having embraced the faith of her mother Neva, my mother named her first daughter, my oldest sister, Neva. She has honored the legacy of her grandmother by living an exemplary life of devout faith in Christ as a minister’s wife and as a mother and grandmother. Though she has known the crushing weight of sorrow in the death of her husband and their two sons, her faith has not wavered; it shines for all to see like a faithful Light House guiding others to safety.

          My father was a Baptist and a devout, disciplined believer. I never knew his parents because they both died young. Evidently their faith strongly influenced by father to trust and honor God. Thus my siblings and I had the good fortune to grow up in a home where Christ was loved and God was honored.

          Church for us as children was never an option, it was a habit. Though both our parents had a Baptist heritage, they had become Methodists by the time I was born. So we were raised in the Methodist Church, first at Dexter Avenue Methodist in Montgomery and later at First Methodist in Wetumpka. My siblings and I owe a great debt to many devout believers in those two churches whose faith in Christ we embraced as we grew to adulthood.

          In that environment we were not exposed much to persons who gave testimonies to their faith. As my experience broadened I began to meet people who witnessed without embarrassment to their life-changing encounters with Christ. In time I learned how powerfully God can use an authentic testimony of a person’s turning from false gods to genuine faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ.

          Finally I came to the conviction that God wants to use testimonies to revive dead or sleeping churches and awaken them to the reality that Christ is alive and not some ancient biblical “hero.”  The best of such testimonies God uses first to transform families.

          The pattern is familiar. One family member meets Christ and is saved by grace. He or she shares that experience within the family and one by one the entire family receives salvation. Then God uses that person, and often that family, to begin a revival in that local church. Others, thirsty to know God personally, begin through repentance to seek redemption. Like a fire the Spirit spreads from one family to another and the church is reborn.

          I am a blessed man. I have lived to see all my children and most of my grandchildren profess faith in Christ. Like Simeon of old I am waiting now for something. I am praying for every one of my grandchildren to trust Christ for salvation. I will not be able to “depart in peace” until they all do. I do not want even one link in our legacy of faith to be broken.

          This lesson’s powerful passage of scripture should remind parents of the need to share their faith with their children and grandchildren. Children need to hear their parents worship God at home and often pray aloud. It helps a child to embrace God as a loving Father to hear his or her father and mother speak to God daily about ordinary concerns and to cry out to God for help in the crises of life.

          Children can learn to trust God when they hear from their parents how they learned to know and trust God. This is how the faith is passed on from generation to generation.  The redeemed of the Lord need to “say so,” and first of all to their families! It worked for Lois, Eunice, and Timothy. Lois and Eunice taught Timothy to love Jesus. Paul taught Timothy how to serve Jesus.

          God grant that it may be so for us – that grateful for our own legacy of faith we will do our best to pass it on to our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. What greater purpose for our lives can there be than to keep the faith alive in the hearts of our descendants!

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