As we celebrated Mother’s Day last weekend, I was particularly mindful of some words recorded in Scripture about mothers. The apostle Paul noted in one of his letters to young Timothy, “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you” (2 Timothy 1:5, NLT).
There is a lot we can learn from these words. First of all, of everything we appreciate about our mothers and grandmothers, we should be most grateful for the faith they pass on to us. I’ve been blessed to have a Christian mother and grandmothers who have stood faithfully with the Lord and been strong spiritual influences in my life. I realize that not everyone has that same experience, but I think any Christian can certainly think of people who have been spiritual role models. Even for those of us who are not mothers, we can learn from this scripture passage that faith is intended to be shared and passed on to others.
Therefore, we all need positive examples to follow, and we should strive to be such role models for others. In his letter to the Philippian church, Paul exhorted, “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example” (Philippians 3:17). Who has served as a pattern for your life?
Timothy apparently had several examples including his mother, grandmother, and Paul. Yet, I find it very interesting that immediately after Paul acknowledged the influence of his mother and grandmother, he exhorted the young minister to “stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6, NKJV). You see, even though Timothy had received spiritual gifts through the influence of others, he had to “stir up” those gifts himself.
What does it mean to stir up the gift of God? Think about what happens when you prepare sweet tea or lemonade. When you first pour the sugar in the drink, it settles to the bottom. It takes a good stirring to get the sugar to blend well and fulfill its purpose to sweeten the whole drink.
In a similar way, we may have faith or spiritual gifts within us, but we have to keep them stirred so they don’t stay hidden or buried. Other people can impart spiritual influence, but you have to use your gifts and develop your faith for yourself.
Another Bible translation expresses Paul’s exhortation to Timothy this way: “fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you” (NLT). You may have a spiritual gift smoldering inside you, but you have the potential to fan that gift into flames. It takes a continual fanning of your spiritual flames to develop strong, lasting faith.
I like the words Paul chose to describe the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. He called it “genuine” faith; some other translations use the words “sincere” or “unfeigned” faith. That means Timothy learned to have a relationship with God that was consistent, real, battle-tested, and pure. That’s the kind of faith we should all desire!
If you’re strong in faith today, be thankful for the deposits other people made into your spiritual life. Let their example serve as motivation to invest in the lives of others. If you need to grow in your faith, find positive spiritual influences who can serve as examples for you. When we learn from others and consistently stir up our spiritual gifts, we can develop our own genuine, sincere, unfeigned faith in God.