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"Influencing the Next Generation"

May 11, 2014 Mother's Day 2Tim 1:1-14


When we are growing up, our parents have a profound influence upon us, for good or ill. Recently our daughter Emily, who has written more than one book about her own personal history which involved our parenting, sent the family this cartoon: (caption - "Look, we're sorry.If we had known you were going to be a writer, we'd have been better parents!")

It's unquestionable that our mothers have a profound influence in our lives. For example, complete the following sentences: "If momma ain't happy...[ain't nobody happy]" Or, how about this one: suppose a couple are in the midst of a heated discussion and the husband says to the wife, "You sound just like...[your mother]" Note to men - you might want to avoid that one!

Reader's Digest invited readers to send in some of their mothers' favourite expressions. Do these classic remarks resonate with you? "Make sure you wash [where?] behind your ears." "Eat your [what?] vegetables." "Just wait til [when?] your father gets home." Or that all-time favourite, "Always wear clean underwear; [because, why?] you never know when you'll be in an accident and have to go to the hospital."

But many other people besides our mothers influence us while we're growing up. A couple of photos of our most recent grandchild to document this...[hey, any excuse to show off the latest baby pictures, right?] Here we have Eliana being played with by her father Davies. What are those eyes seeing? She can't read or necessarily even understand speech yet at 3 months old, but what might she be taking in through her gaze? Do you think Davies' smile and attention are communicating things like love, acceptance, delight, pleasure, enjoyment, interest, affection?

Or here's another one where Auntie Allie was carrying Eliana out on a springtime walk. You don't have to be a parent to influence someone in the next generation. You don't even have to be a relative. Nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, baseball and soccer coaches, school-teachers, tutors, other people in the congregation - each is "rubbing off" on us somehow, influencing us by their lives.

The Great Commission Jesus gave was to make disciples. And really, that's what making disciples is all about - influencing others, persuading them, mentoring them, helping them take next steps in their walk with Jesus. Life-on-life, influencing others in Christlikeness.

As we look at the first chapter in Paul's second letter to his protege Timothy, there are a couple of questions that will hep us unpack the text in light of influencing. One is: "What's in you and Who put it there?" The other is: "What makes an Influencer?"


As Paul writes this letter, he must be very conscious that his earthly life will be over soon. This is his second imprisonment, under Emperor Nero about 67 AD, in a lonely dungeon cell not just under house arrest. We understand from tradition that he was executed rather than released. He must have been very conscious that much of the legacy he'd leave behind in earthly terms would be found in the few young men he'd been mentoring during his travels. Principal among these young men was Timothy, a convert from Lystra in Asia Minor whose mother was Jewish but whose father was a Greek (Acts 16:1).

Paul in his parting correspondence reminds Timothy both what's in his life as a Christian, and who put it there - and much of that's true for us as believers, too. V1 "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus..." What's in Timothy, what's he have? "The promise of LIFE." Who put it there? He has it "in Christ Jesus."

Our mothers gave us physical birth, nurture, and life in the biological sense. But Jesus gives us ETERNAL life - life on a whole different scale. Jn 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full [abundantly]." Notice too how v14 closes this section - "the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us" / indwells us. Do you know you have a 'tenant'? God's very Spirit lives inside you if you are trusting in Jesus as your Lord. He gives us divine life that won't stop when our heart quits beating.

V2 "To Timothy, my dear son:" literally, 'beloved son'. Timothy's not Paul's SON in the biological sense! But they'd spent so much time together, Paul had taken Timothy along with him on his missionary travels, the years of accompaniment likely meant Timothy was starting to think like Paul thought and could have predicted what Paul would say in a given situation. Life-on-life, discipleship, influencing. More intimately than a son might know his absentee father. Paul and Timothy felt as close as father-and-son now.

V2 continues, "Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord." Did you hear that, or take it for granted? Grace, mercy, and peace - something else that's for Timothy; from whom? God and Jesus. Are those what you heard from the lips of the leader of Boko Haram, the African militant Islamic group that kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls? No, what he said was: "I abducted your girls.I will sell them in the market, by Allah...There is a market for selling humans.Allah says I should sell.He commands me to sell.I will sell women." Not much grace, mercy, or peace there! Or what v13 terms "faith and love in Christ Jesus". Boko Haram serves a spirit very different from the Christian God.

At EMCC Regional Gathering this week in Kitchener, Yvonne and I were speaking with President Phil Delsaut after a workshop. He was commenting how with the travelling he's done to India and Sri Lanka, it really strikes you how different Christianity is from other religions. There is no "family"-ness to faith, no "love of the Father" in Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam. Yet people are very hungry to hear of it, because our Creator fashioned us to yearn for what He offers only in Jesus.

V3 "I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did..." Paul is part of a chain in a faith-community, extending back through Pharisees in the tribe of Benjamin to Abraham. Our forefathers can play a part in our coming to faith: I still have a green New English Bible my mother's father gave me one Christmas, and I used to recite my Sunday School memory verses to my father's mother. Ps 78:5f "He decreed statutes...which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children." One generation can positively influence the next by transmitting the gospel and God's teaching.

V5 gets most personal for Timothy: "I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also." What's in him? Sincere faith. Who played a part in that? His grandmother and mother. Parents and grandparents powerfully and most proximally influence the next generation. The passage we read in chapter 3 last week comes back to this specifically, vv14-15: "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures..." Who was teaching young Timmy the Bible from the cradle? Mom and Grandma. They were laying a faith-foundation Paul could later build on when he came preaching the news about Jesus.

Vv13-14 point out the "sound teaching" Timothy heard from Paul, it's a "good deposit" that's been entrusted to him. Another highly significant way the apostle influenced the young man's life. What memorable truth about Christian faith are we imparting to those we're influencing? What messages are we giving, by our lifestyle and our words, about what's most important?

V6 "...fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." We're not told precisely what this "gift of God" is that Paul's referring to that Timothy has, but it may be the gift of leadership through preaching and teaching (1Tim 1:18; 4:13f). He was not to neglect this gift, but 'rekindle' it. Again, we can see Paul's direct involvement, even to being physically present at the elders' prayer with laying on of hands.

Continuing our look at "what's in you and who put it there" - v7: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." Did Timothy have a bent toward shyness, not wanting to ruffle feathers? Paul's reminding him God gives boldness, power, yet harnessed by agape love and self-control. Jesus promised in Acts 1:8 "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you..." And Galatians 5(22f) says the Holy Spirit's fruit includes both love and self-control.

V9 mentions God's own "purpose and grace" - "This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time..." We are put right with God through Jesus' sacrifice, not because of any good works we may have done. Thus our life gains direction from God's purpose for us, it's His doing, His choosing to save us, He wants us! Eph 2:8f "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast." Sheer grace.

What else is in us? V10 Christ Jesus "has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." He destroyed death, it's still a stage we go through but to a better body and future on the other side - no longer something to dread. He's brought life and immortality, non-perishability. 1Cor 15:53 "For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality."

Poor Pastor Mark Royall and his wife Glenda left the Huron Christian School's production of "Joseph" in Goderich May 2 and, on the way home, ran into a deer, causing damage to their car that will likely be over $5K. But that's a metaphor for everything this side of Christ's return - creation is running down, wearing out, things PERISH. Yet Christ has triumphed over death and gives real hope, a new creation. 2Cor 5:4 "For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life." I LIKE that wording - life "swallowing up" what's passing / mortal!

V12 gets at the fact that Christianity isn't a "religion" but a "relationship": "...I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." Believers KNOW Jesus, we are CONVINCED He's in control of all we've entrusted to Him. In Rev 3:20 Jesus promises if we open the door of our life to Him, He'll come into us and "dine" with us - enjoy real fellowship.

Timothy's mother and grandmother played a significant role in nurturing the young lad's faith relationship. A good friend of Chuck Swindoll was raised by a godly pastor's wife. He told Chuck that when he was rocked to sleep at night by his mother, she didn't sing to him just little ditties and lullabies; she sang him the hymns of the faith. When he was in the crib, he remembers her leaning over and singing to him "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"; "And Can It Be?"; "More Love to Thee, O Christ"; "My Jesus, I Love Thee"; "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." She sang the deep songs. And he says, "I remember.I remember those hymns.In fact, when I got into church, I had heard and learned most of the hymns." She made a contribution to that young man's life that he'll never forget.


Don't those sound like valuable things to be building into others' lives? Life; grace, mercy, peace; faith, love; power, self-control; purpose; a forever relationship? What kind of life does it take to be a credible "influencer" to others? Paul's letter suggests qualities that would make us more effective in impacting others.

V3 "I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience..." Would you really WANT someone with a guilty conscience being a prime influencer of your son's or daughter's life? That doesn't mean avoiding sin totally - we'd have to be perfect to do that - but having godly standards and, when we fall short, admit our sin, repent, call out for Christ's forgiveness, and by His strength change our ways. Heb 10:22 "let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water." Deal with those moral housecleaning issues by going to the cross, and start again.

Paul continues in v3, "as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers." Are we interceding for those we're trying to influence for the Kingdom? From my earliest days I can remember passing my parents' bedroom and catching a glimpse through the door of my mother kneeling beside her bed before going to sleep at night. 1Thess 5:17 "pray continually;" Col 4:2 "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Note especially Paul's emotional attachment to and affection for his protege. V4 "Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy." Longing - being filled with joy at seeing the other person: discipleship isn't to be cold and uncaring; let yourself LOVE the other person, rejoice in the person Christ is crafting them to become. Paul described his approach to the church at Thessalonica this way: "we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us." (1Th 2:7-8) Let those you're influencing know you genuinely and deeply care about them.

V8 "So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord..." When it comes to giving credit to Jesus, does the cat have our tongue? I missed an opportunity this Thursday. For 3 months my father-in-law who sleeps in a lift chair had been trying to get the nursing home to take the bed (which he doesn't use) out of the room so he'd have more space. The administration had arranged a meeting but in the end it seemed their preferred solution was to keep the bed in the room. I'd sort of resigned myself to the situation. But Thursday my father-in-law (an agnostic) phoned to say that, out of the blue, the bed had been removed! I COULD have expressed something like "Praise the Lord!" or "God must really love you" but I didn't - maybe I will yet. Let's not be ashamed when God answers our prayers.

V8 continues, "join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." V12 notes it's because of Paul's being a herald of the gospel that he is suffering as he is. Are we comfort-driven North Americans really ready to "suffer for the gospel"? Would we joyfully accept our possessions being taken from us, like the New Testament church (Heb 10:34)? Would we give up our retirement? A week of our vacation plans for a VBS or missions trip? Jesus reminds us what we're really signing up for in Luke 9:23: "Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

V3 talked about a clear conscience, cleaning up past sin - what about going forward? V9 God "has saved us and called us to a holy life..." Is holiness your aim, or worldly 'happiness' based on possessions and pleasant circumstances? 1Thess 4:7 "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." If you would be used by God to influence others towards Jesus, strive to be holy - beware of purity 'leaks'.

Finally, do you suffer from "truth decay"? Are you becoming more familiar with the Bible so you can have the 'mind of Christ'? Vv13-14 [note the verbs] "What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-- guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." Are you guarding / keeping / treasuring and protecting New Testament teaching consciously, letting it form your mental categories? Paul likewise counselled Titus (another future leader-in-the-making) that an elder must: "hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." An influencer encourages and refutes, in accord with God's view of things as outlined in the Bible and accepted Christian doctrine.


Discipleship is life-on-life, influencing others guided by the Holy Spirit, getting close enough to let them taste Christ's grace mercy peace faith love and power flowing through you. In closing from James Dobson's book, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew about Women, here's how a third-grader answered the question, "What Is a Grandmother?" Think about how many types of "influencing" are going on here - and what it takes to do that.

"A grandmother is a lady who has no children of her own.She likes other people's little girls and boys.A grandfather is a man grandmother.He goes for walks with boys, and they talk about fishing and stuff like that.

Grandmothers don't have to do anything except be there.They're old so they shouldn't play hard or run.It is enough if they drive us to the market where the pretend horse is, and have a lot of dimes ready.Or if they take us for walks, they should slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.They should never say, "Hurry up."

Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes.They wear glasses and funny underwear.They can take their teeth and gums out.

Grandmothers don't have to be smart, only answer questions like, "Why isn't God married?" and "How come dogs chase cats?"

Grandmothers don't talk baby talk like visitors do, because it is hard to understand.When they read to us they don't skip or mind if it is the same story over again.

Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don't have television, because they are the only grown-ups who have time."

Let's pray.