“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” ~2 Timothy 1:5
Gaius Octavius was born in Rome, September 23, 63 BC. As a young person he was a serious student and was studying quietly in a small town (in Illyrian) when he heard that his great uncle Julius Caesar had been murdered. The date of the assassination was March 15, 44 BC, Gaius Octavius was only 19 years old.
When the will of Caesar was read, the world learned that Caesar had adopted Gaius Octavius and made him his heir. Moving into his early manhood, by skillful manipulation of his friends, Octavius conquered his main rival, Mark Anthony, at Actium. In time he became the undisputed ruler of Rome. Finally, in 31 BC the Roman senate bestowed upon him the title, Augustus. It was this man Luke referred to in his gospel when he recorded the details surrounding the birth of Christ. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.”
Augustus finally died in AD 14, but he cast a long shadow over the decades that followed. His influence was felt, for example, in the town of Lystra. Lystra was a Roman colony Augustus established with an aristocratic core of citizens. Despite the education and wealth of the citizens, there was much superstition. In Lystra, the gods Zeus and Hermes were worshipped.
The people needed the truth. In the providence of God, the gospel was preached in Lystra by Paul and Barnabas, who had fled from Iconium. The unbelieving Jews there had stirred up the Gentiles to oppose the preaching of Christ. The people were ready to stone the apostles and so they fled. Their flight brought them to Lystra.
It was in Lystra that the Lord opened the hearts of two special women. One was named Lois, meaning “agreeable”. The other was her daughter named Eunice, whose name means “good victory”. Several characteristics can be noted about these women.
First, they were women of courage. Their courage is reflected in the fact they left the false gods of their culture, to embrace the one true God of Creation. That was not easy to do. It is never easy for people to go against popular local opinion. It is never easy to think independently. It is not easy to be in the religious minority where physical suffering becomes a real possibility. But the gospel was preached, and Lois said with great courage, “I will believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.” And her daughter Eunice said, “I too believe in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.” Jesus, was by now a hated name to many. Jesus was an accursed name among the Jews. Lois and Eunice were Jews, but they had the courage to embrace the gospel.
Second, they were women of conviction. Their conversion to Christ was not a novel action. They were not silly women, cast about by every wind and doctrine. Little by little they grew in grace and knowledge, until the tiny seed of saving faith had grown into a strong gospel oak. Their roots were deep in the soul of salvation by grace through faith alone. Lois and her daughter Eunice, were convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt of several spiritual truths.
They were convinced Jesus was born of a virgin. The Holy Ghost had overshadowed Mary, and that holy seed in her was without sin. Mary was not the mother of God, but she was the mother of the humanity of Christ. She is to be honored among women, but not above them.
They were convinced Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God. Only the Holy Spirit can reveal that to a soul.
They were convinced Jesus had died at Calvary as a substitution for the sins of His people There is an alien righteousness that is available to anyone for the asking, by faith. Martin Luther asked crying out, “Oh Lord, you are my righteousness; I am Thy sin.”
They were convinced Christ died, and was buried, and on the third day He arose.
They were convinced the Lord ascended into heaven. There is a Man in the heavens today. He is not alone, for the souls of millions and billions of believers are with Him, along with the holy angels. There is a place called heaven. These cardinal doctrines Lois and Eunice embraced, and never surrendered. They were women of great conviction.
Third, Lois and Eunice were women of great compassion. This is easily testified to in the fact they passed on their spiritual legacy to Timothy, the son of Eunice. To pass on one’s spiritual legacy is one of the greatest acts of compassion possible, because it is the effort to save a soul from eternal suffering. We are living in a society that has lost a large part of its capacity to show compassion. The fact that about a million abortions are performed each year in America alone indicates the lack of compassion that at least a million women have towards the unborn babies. The fact that child abuse is on the increase indicates the lack of compassion in many women, for they punch and beat and brutalize their children. The fact that countless women rear their children apart from any religious instruction, indicates that Christian compassion is not natural to the human heart. Compassion is an emotion that must be cultivated by the grace of God.
Years ago, a lady lived in New Orleans told me she was not going to make her child go to either a Catholic or a Protestant church. She would leave the child alone, and when he came of age, he could make his own decision.
That mother might just as well have stamped “Anathema!” across the brow of her son. She had made a rational decision to help Satan in the destruction of her boy. I tell you that such a woman has no idea what true compassion is, for her attitude contributed to the early death, almost certain damnation of her child.
At about 30 years of age, he was found in the hull of a ship in Galveston, Texas. Drugs fried his brain.
In contrast to such mothers of this world, and they are numerous, stands Eunice and her mother Lois. Mother and grandmother once stood over the cradle of a little baby named Timothy, and coveted together to instruct him in the gospel of redeeming grace.
The years passed, and the efforts of Lois and Eunice were rewarded for it was said to Timothy that, “from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures which are able to make these wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” The man who wrote these words to Timothy was the apostle Paul. Paul knew a lot about Timothy, for he had invited the young man to accompany him on his second missionary journey. From the Biblical narrative a composite picture emerges about Timothy.
First, Timothy was a sensitive soul. One cannot read the pastoral epistles without sensing that Timothy did not like violent confrontations. He tried to help people every way possible, but he was not tough psychologically. Powerful personalities frightened him, so that Paul had to remind him, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Second, Timothy was a sickly soul. On one occasion he was instructed to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake. Timothy was not constitutionally strong, and yet he endured in the work of the ministry despite his physical limitation as many others have also done. John Calvin had to endure splitting headaches. C.H. Spurgeon suffered from gout. Peter Marshall died from a second heart attack.
Third, Timothy was a faithful soul. Whatever task he was assigned, he did to the best of his abilities. At Berea, Athens, Corinth, Thessalonica and Ephesus, Timothy performed the work of the ministry.
He did this by appointing Elders, overseeing the financial affairs of the church, settling disputes,
teaching the Scriptures, combating heresies, praying diligently, and by loving the people.
Through all of these experiences undergirding his profitable ministry to so many, was the strong spiritual legacy his mother and grandmother had given him. We look carefully at the spiritual legacy, and discover that Timothy was the recipient of a vital faith. The influence of his mother upon his life was pervasive. Such influence is not something that is soon forgotten.
John Quincy Adams said, “All that I am my mother made me.”
Abraham Lincoln said, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
Henry Ward Beecher once wrote, “The memory of my sainted mother is the brightest recollection of my early years.”
This point needs to be pressed home to every mother in the country. Mothers must be reminded the children are watching, and wandering about the importance and the place of faith in life. Mothers need to be reminded their faith, or the lack of the same, will influence the lives of the children, forever.
Mothers, when the difficult days of life come, do the children see your faith in the Lord? Will you be able to testify and say,
“One by one He took them from me,
All the things I valued most;
Until I was empty handed
Every glittering toy was lost.
And I walked earth’s lonely highways
In my rags and poverty;
Till I heard His voice entreating
“Lift your empty hands to me.”
Empty hands I lifted heavenward
And He filled them with a store
Of His own transcendent riches
Till my hands could hold no more.
And at last, I comprehended,
With my mind so slow and dull,
That God could not pour His riches
Into hands already full.”
The children want to ask, “Mother, do you have faith?”
The young people want to know, when the hour of appointed worship is offered, should they go to church, or turn more eagerly to a god of entertainment? By divine design, mothers influence their children in this matter too.
“No time for God?
What fools we are to clutter
up our lives with common things
And leave without heart’s gate the Lord of life
No time for God?
As soon to say no time to eat or sleep or love or die,
Or you should dwarf your soul and when
The angel death comes knocking at your door,
A poor misshapen thing you’ll be to step into eternity.
No time for God?
That day when sickness comes, or trouble finds you out
And you cry out for God,
Will He have time for you?”
The conclusion of the matter is simple.
Mothers, consider the legacy you are leaving to your children. You are leaving them one. The only question is will they rise up in the day of ultimate judgment and call you blessed, for the Christian character you have given to them of courage, conviction, and compassion? Will the record show, when the books are opened, that you instilled in them faith in God, and love for the church? May the answer be, “Yes! I did all of that, and more!”
And if that is not something that can be said, then Mothers, make your heart cry out to heaven in this very hour and cry, “Lord, by lip and by life I will bring the children to Christ. I will have a godly legacy yet!” The importance of a mother’s legacy is not just for time but is for all eternity.