|Vol. 14 No. 4 April 2012||
Humanists today believe that it takes a village to raise a child. Do we find that idea in Scripture? Is every shopkeeper, every neighbor, every relative or older sibling an authority over younger children? Pity the poor child who has no idea what to do because of conflicting rules! There must be some standard of judgment to teach respect and good behavior to our children while also helping them to understand who actually has been given authority over them.
The New Testament tells us about a young Christian man named Timothy who became a special assistant to the apostle Paul after he heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had converted many in Lystra, Iconium and Derbe on his first missionary journey, and by the time Timothy first appears by name in Acts 16:1-3, he had already grown to have a good reputation among the Christians in the cities of Lystra and Iconium. Timothy left his home to travel to distant places with Paul, and eventually he preached on his own.
We know from the letters that Paul wrote to him (1 and 2 Timothy) that Timothy was a responsible, hard-working, tenderhearted young man who loved the Lord. He did what was right when it was unpopular, when it was very hard and even when his life was in danger. However, we know that Timothy did not become such an outstanding young man by himself. Who was it that trained Timothy in his young years?
Timothy was taught to love God and the Old Testament Scriptures by his mother Eunice, and his grandmother Lois. They knew it was very important to teach Timothy about God and His Word from the time he was small. They believed and practiced Moses’ words to the Jews about teaching children every day (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he complemented his mother and grandmother on their strong faith in God and on their efforts to help Timothy have that same kind of faith (2 Timothy1:5). Eunice and Lois did not know that Timothy would grow up to become a great preacher and leader in the church. They had no way of knowing that he would become a special assistant to the great apostle Paul, but they knew that teaching a child during his earliest years often determines what kind of person he will grow up to be.
Timothy’s father was a Greek. The Greeks were pagans (persons who worshipped idols), which means he did not believe in God (Acts 17:22-23). He certainly had no intention of raising his son “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Not having the help and support of a Christian husband probably made Eunice’s job as a wife and mother quite difficult. Even though Timothy did not have two godly parents, he had a wonderfully dedicated mother and grandmother. No doubt, Timothy’s father taught him some things, but pagans would naturally teach earthly, temporal good. Later, Paul loved Timothy and taught him the complete Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the same time, Timothy had to do his part by obeying his righteous mother and grandmother who were dedicated to training him in spiritual matters. He listened to their instruction and accepted their guidance because he loved and respected them and the God of Heaven and earth, whom they followed. Children today must obey their parents and show them respect. God has given parents authority over the children as well as the special job of teaching them to do right (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 12:7-10). If children do their part, they can grow up to be faithful, hardworking Christians just like Timothy!
Parents, grandparents and children today need to consider exactly what Eunice and Lois taught Timothy. In 2 Timothy 3:15, the holy Scriptures that Timothy had known from a child obviously refer to the Old Testament Scriptures, because the New Testament had not been written up to that point. Timothy was told by the inspired apostle Paul that those Old Testament Scriptures were able to make him wise unto salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. From what Timothy was told, we can see that it is essential for us to study the Old Testament and learn lessons, which will build our faith in the New Testament teachings of Jesus Christ.
Though we are not under and are not to obey the Old Testament Law (Colossians 2:13-17; Galatians 5:1-4), nevertheless the Old Testament consists of far more than just the Law of Moses. The Old Testament contains a record of God’s judgments, testimonies and principles, which are still as valid and true today as they ever were because they were given by the God of heaven who never changes. The law has changed, but God and His nature, principles and judgments have not changed. Of Himself, God says in His Word, “For I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). A passage in James 1:17 describes God as “the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). The judgments of what is good and evil and the testimonies that God has spoken in the Old Testament reflect His eternal, unchanging nature. Therefore, in the New Testament God has taught us to study the Old Testament because it is for our example and our admonition (1 Corinthians 10:6-11). It is also for our learning, patience, comfort and hope (Romans 15:4); as we saw earlier, it is also to make us wise unto salvation. In this passage, God clearly implies that ignorance of the lessons of the Old Testament can result in our being foolish and could ultimately cause us to be damned.