3 I’m grateful to God, whom I serve with a good conscience as my ancestors did. I constantly remember you in my prayers day and night. 4 When I remember your tears, I long to see you so that I can be filled with happiness. 5 I’m reminded of your authentic faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m sure that this faith is also inside you. 6 Because of this, I’m reminding you to revive God’s gift that is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 God didn’t give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving, and self-controlled. 8 So don’t be ashamed of the testimony about the Lord or of me, his prisoner. Instead, share the suffering for the good news, depending on God’s power.
Paul likely met Timothy’s mother and grandmother on his first visit to Lystra (Acts 14:6-20) and won them to Christ. Young Timothy had a strong faith heritage from those two women. When Paul returned to Lystra a few years later, he took Timothy with him on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-5). Unlike many converts, Timothy didn’t have to “unlearn” pagan habits of thought and worship. That no doubt made his strong relationship learning from and following Paul easier.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the people who have influenced me to take seriously your call on me to follow you. Grow my ability to be a positive influence on others. Amen.
Family members can be some of the most influential people in our lives. They are our primary model of love and of life. For Timothy, his grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice, seemed to have modeled these well. (I mean, imagine getting a shoutout from Paul--they must have done SOMETHING right). Thankfully, like Timothy, I also have also been extremely encouraged by the “authentic faith” (2 Timothy 1:5) of my mom, Lisa, and my grandparents, Louise and Jim. They have open hands, open hearts, and open minds to wherever God could be leading them next, and they never stop asking questions and desiring to more fully follow Jesus. As influential as these people have been in my life, their influence wasn’t a loud and demanding one, and that’s why it has had such a positive impact on me. As much as our desire to positively influence the people around us is good, I think it’s vital that we really let God do the work through us.
In addition to the influence of family, it’s important to recognize the powerful influence of people who might as well be family. Throughout the New Testament, Paul addresses Timothy as “my dear child” or “my true son in the faith.” Needless to say, even though they were not actually related, Paul's influence on Timothy’s life was huge. It’s so important that we surround ourselves with people like Paul: friends who know us, our strengths and weaknesses, and can affirm us yet challenge us to grow. So if you didn’t grow up with a strong family foundation and a healthy model of love, I fully believe that God works just as effectively through various other friendships and relationships.
You may never know the influence that you’ve had on someone’s life, whether that be your friends, family members, or even people that you’ve only met once. But I’m fully convinced that God knows and rejoices as each one of us uses the gifts He’s given us to point others to The One truly worth following.
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