Mother’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the role our mothers play in our lives. For the vast majority of people their mum is a faithful, caring, loving person whose nurturing hand is one that shapes and influences them for the rest of their lives. This post for Mothers’ Day looks at the influence that a faithful mother and a faithful grandmother had on the life of someone who became a significant figure in the early church.
Timothy was one of the apostle Paul’s closest co-workers whom he commissioned to stay on in the city of Ephesus and to help establish a strong church there (see 1 Timothy 1:3). Timothy’s mother, Eunice, was ‘a Jewish woman who was a believer’, while Timothy’s father was a Greek (Acts 16:1). This means that Timothy’s parents would not have agreed on everything especially since his father is not described as being a believer. However, in the midst of this mixed-race and mixed-faith household, Eunice shines as a faithful example for us.
Both Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois, are described by Paul in his letter to Timothy as having ‘sincere faith’ dwelling in them (2 Tim 1:5). This phrase means that their faith was genuine. They possessed a faith that was real and not just something that was polished off for display on Sundays or in public. It was faith that was visible to those around them.
Not only did Eunice and Lois have sincere faith, but Paul writes that this same sincere faith now dwells in Timothy. What a blessing to pass on! The sincere faith that they demonstrated had a huge impact on Timothy and he grew up to possess this same faith. What a legacy!
It was the faith of Timothy’s mother that led her to ground him in knowledge of the Scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:14,15 says, ‘You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writing which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is on Christ Jesus.’ It is clear that Timothy learned a great many things from Paul as they travelled together (see 2 Timothy 3:10f) and Paul talks affectionately about Timothy as his son (e.g. see 2 Timothy 1:2; 2:1). However, 2 Timothy 3:14,15 clearly show that the real foundation that Timothy’s faith was built on goes back into his childhood.
His mother and grandmother brought him up knowing the Scriptures. He would have been told the stories of how God chose Abraham as father of the nations, anointed David as king of Israel and appointed Gideon as a victorious warrior. He would have learned about the integrity of Joseph, the wisdom of Solomon, the leadership of Moses, the bravery of Esther, the fearlessness of Elijah and the faithfulness of Ruth. He would have known how God saved a family through Noah and his ark, saved a nation through Moses and the Red Sea and saved the sinful foreign woman Rahab through a scarlet cord. He would have wept in Lamentations, worshipped with the Psalms and stood in awe alongside Isaiah. But above all, he would have grasped how the Scriptures point towards One who is to come, the One who would bring salvation for all, the One whose name is Jesus.
The Scriptures make wise for salvation (v15). This is not an accumulation of knowledge but a faith that rests in Christ Jesus. Eunice and Lois knew this. They knew that they had a responsibility to train Timothy in the Scriptures and wanted to do everything they could to make sure that he had the truth embedded into his way of thinking.
When caring for young children it is sometimes easy to wonder whether you are having any impact at all. But be assured, well laid foundations are invaluable building blocks that God can use. Ultimately, of course, salvation is something that is entirely in the hands of God since He is sovereign! But always remember that the influence that a mother can wield in the lives of her children is significant.
I think that the lesson of Eunice and Lois is that the greatest legacy you can leave your children is to have continually pointed them towards Jesus. They model two powerful ways of doing this: living out your personal faith in a genuine way and teaching your children the Scriptures.
Never underestimate the godly influence you can have on the lives of your children.
 This post is dedicated to Edna, my mother, and Betty, my grandmother. Both of them showed me the importance of the Scriptures and their godly faith significantly shaped my life.