Paul wrote to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and . . . now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5 NIV). Salvation passed from generation to generation: from Grandmother Lois to Mother Eunice, and then to Timothy. What did these women do to so powerfully impress godliness from generation to generation?
Most parents want their children to love God. We can tip the scales toward a lifetime of loving God by leading our children, early in life, to accept Christ as Savior. By so doing, we will spiritually impact the next generation.
Accepting Christ as Savior is an individual decision. No one can say, “My mother’s faith in God saves me!” Each child must put his own faith into action. He must assent to the fact that Christ’s death and resurrection are able to cancel his own sin. However, mere assent will not save; he must also accept Christ as his Savior. Some folks assent that they are sinners and need a Savior, but never go so far as to accept the covering for their sin that He has provided.
How can we as assenting and accepting believers in Christ Jesus ensure that our faith will pass to the next generation? There are two ways: (1) through our example and (2) through our influence.
Lois and Eunice were not powerful spiritual leaders; they were just housewives, mothers, and grandmothers, like most of us. They could say with Paul, “I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him” (2 Timothy 1:12). Paul adjured Timothy, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14 NIV). His godly grandmother and mother were the depositors who had daily embedded godly teaching in Timothy’s life. Albert Schweitzer once said, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”
Our example is overt. Our influence is subtler, less obvious: the simple living of godliness.
My mother read her Bible every day and quietly praised God for Scriptures that touched her heart. She often went to bed earlier than the rest of the family. I remember hearing softly murmured prayers for my brother and myself coming from her darkened bedroom. Her quiet influence powerfully touched me. I saw Christ in her.
Why should we fear to spiritually persuade our children? We influence their hygiene when we insist that they bathe and brush their teeth; their health when we ensure that they eat well-balanced meals; their social lives by teaching them etiquette, how to cement friendships, and use good social skills. We influence their future work ethic by insisting that they go to school, get good grades, and finish their projects. Why shouldn’t we guide our children’s spiritual health by reading God’s Word to them every day, taking time to pray with them, and seeing that they attend church with the family?
Allen Groff, a minister, said, “Our influence is almost immortal.” Our godly example and spiritual living work powerfully, hand in hand, to pass down our faith to a new generation. Will our children “catch” salvation from us?