Mother's Day 2022
What does a model mother look like according to the Lord? Paul gives us an excellent description in the comments he makes in his second letter to his young convert and pastoral mentee, Timothy. His observations are worth considering this Mother’s Day. By measuring yourself against this holy standard, you can get a good idea of how you are doing, coupled with some helpful ideas on how to mature in your all-important life role.
Just who does Paul set up as an excellent, godly standard? Two women: a woman named Lois and her daughter Eunice. Who are they? These fine women were the grandmother and mother of Pastor Timothy. Granted, Paul makes passing observations about them in this personal letter; however, from his statements, we can quickly secure answers to this pivotal question:
What Are The Traits Of A Model Mother?
Four wonderful traits emerge from an analysis of a few verses from chapters one and three. Here is the first one:
A Model Mother Has Love For Others
After mentioning how much he loved and prayed for his pastoral pupil, Timothy, Paul reminded the young, maturing pastor about his rich Christian heritage and upbringing:
5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. (2 Tim. 1).
Timothy’s saving faith in Jesus, the Christ, had a pedigree traceable to his Christian mother and ultimately his grandmother. Since Paul traveled on his first missionary journey through Galatia, where they lived, it is quite possible he and Barnabas led both of them to saving faith in Jesus through their collaborative teaching and preaching (Acts 13:13-14:21). Additionally, from Acts chapter 16, verse 1, Luke informs us these women were of Jewish descent, “Then he [Paul] came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed . . .” Interesting. The Lord strategically works to save mothers so they, in turn, can have a positive spiritual impact on their children. More on this ethnic angle in just a moment. My mother, Sue, also came from a non-Christian heritage, but she came to know Christ as a teen when she started attending a Baptist church with a friend. How unique are the ways of God? More on her in a moment as well.
At this juncture, I wish to focus on the interesting Greek phrase “sincere faith.” “Sincere” is from anupokritos(ἀνυπόκριτος), which is a compound word formed by affixing a preposition to a word. Here the preposition is wedded to the word hupokrites from which we get our word hypocrite. This particular grammatical/lexical construction serves to create an emphatic meaning. According to Paul, Timothy’s faith had no deceit, pretense, or compromise. What does this mean, exactly?
To answer this question, we must consider how the word anupokritos is used primarily when it appears in the New Testament. Predominately it connotes Christian faith expressed in agape love for others. Paul used this word to describe to the Corinthians how he functioned as a leader:
6 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love (2 Cor. 6).
Paul loved anyone and everyone. It didn’t matter who they were, where they ranked on a social and economic or educational ladder of life, or how much dysfunction ruled their lives. Consistency described his love for people; therefore, no one could accuse him of showing favoritism or preference to anyone.
Peter echoes Paul’s use of this unique word when he remarks:
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, (1 Pet. 1).
A sincere faith daily fulfills Christ’s mandate for His followers:
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13).
Timothy’s mother and grandmother had this type of faith, a faith that loved others. Ostensibly, this means they looked to the needs of others, not theirs. They sought to meet those needs sacrificially; they served food to the hungry, babysat children’s parents who needed a break, served in various capacities in their local church, visited the sick, etc.
Our world is bent on people canceling each other, de-platforming those they disagree with, and making sure one’s needs and wants are met before all else. A Christian mother is the opposite of this. The motto is not, “What can you do for me today?” but “What can I do to help you bear life’s burden?” I have a mother like this, and just as in Timothy’s case, this godly trait helped prepare me not just for the Christian life but for a pastoral career.
If you teach your children anything in this life, you can do no better than showing them how to love other people through your lifestyle. Many of the mothers among us evidence what I’m talking about, and I thank God for you because you are rearing a great generation of Christian young people. The love your example teaches them will build solid marriages and friendships, equip them to show the lost the unconditional of Christ, how to overcome hatred and animosity, how to create peace where there is strife, and so forth.
A second trait logically emerges from Paul’s words here to Timothy:
A Model Mother Introduces Her Child To Jesus
Come with me as we reread the text:
5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. (2 Tim. 1).
The faith of Lois eventually became the faith of her daughter, Eunice. After she married and had a child, Eunice made sure her son, Timothy, came to know Jesus as the Messiah. How instructive. A model mother does not have her eye on the temporal but on the eternal. She is not primarily concerned with the outer life but with the inner. She has this intense focus because of what she knows to be true.
One, a model mother knows her child is a sinner who needs a personal saving relationship with Jesus. If she ever questioned whether sin existed in people at birth, she had no question after she had Timothy. He came out knowing how to lie, deceive, be self-centered, rude, thoughtless, greedy, and the like. My mother, likewise, knew sin dwelt in my little body.
My best friend growing up, Kenny Eldred, had a great father. Mr. Eldred built us a two-story army fort, replete with a look-out level on the second floor. One day as we played, Kenny locked me out of the fort by slamming the locking bar closed. I immediately took my wooden M-1 carbine and started beating in the door so that I could gain access. Mrs. Eldred heard Kenny’s cries for help and quickly grabbed and escorted me back across the street to my mother. Within a few minutes, she said, “You will give the Eldred’s all of the money in your coin collection to fix what you broke.” That did not bother me too much, but what she did and said next did get my full attention. Placing both of her holy hands on my little seven-year-old shoulders, she looked me in the face and said, “You are from Satan.” Yeah, I guess I was a strong-willed child. Thanks, mom, for pointing this out, for it helped convince me I had not escaped possessing a sinful nature.
As I grew up, verses I encountered verified my sinful position. Here is one I can never forget:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . (Rom. 3).
You did not need to do much to convince me I was a sinner. My inner and outer life proved it, as did my mother’s input, teaching, and counsel. She knew I did not need anger management classes, several sessions with a gifted counselor, or a few good swats on my rear. She knew I, the sinner, needed to know I had a terrible sinful condition. Thanks, mom, for doing to me what Eunice did to young Timothy.
Two, a model mother knows her child needs to know Jesus because He is the only one who can cleanse, redeem, and forge them into great, godly people. Numerous verses are on the front burner of her mind. Here is a good one:
13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds (Tit. 2).
Redemption and purification from the contagion of sin I inherited from Adam are what I, along with Timothy, needed. Jesus, of course, came and died on the cross for our sin and rose as a victor over sin and death on the third day. Now He, and He alone, is the Savior who is fully equipped to help sinners become saints at the moment of faith in His spectacular person and work.
Sure, a model mother knows her child needs many things in their life to function well in society. They need to know how to read well, how to compute numbers, how to construct correct and meaningful sentences, how to show proper manners inside and outside the home, how to listen to and follow directions, how to stick with a commitment even if it challenging, how to tell the difference between good and bad people, how to choose a quality mate, etc. I am sure Eunice thought about all these things. I know my mother did. But all of these things pale into insignificance to a model Christian mother when they consider the eternal soul of their child. They understand that their child’s salvation is the primary concern, leaving all others to a secondary status.
So, what about it, mothers? Are your children believers in Jesus? Great. If not, then follow the lead of Eunice. Pray with and for them, tell them about the good news of Christ’s gospel, talk about the reality and presence of sin, speak to them concerning how sinners become saints using faith in Jesus, and expose them to others who can guide them to the Savior. And, please, don’t lose heart but have a heart that the Lord will work powerfully in their lives to save them one day.
A Model Mother Teaches Her Children The Word
Skipping over to 2 Timothy chapter 3, Paul explains the last days on earth before Christ’s global judgment and glorious return. Paul’s prophetic words here leave us no doubt we do live in the dark days before Jesus returns. In verse 12, the apostle pivots to explain how believers and Christian leaders like Timothy should live during these dark, trying times:
12 And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3).
Unfortunately, verses 12 through 13 read like the front page of most news websites. Light is called darkness while darkness is labeled as light, reality is called unreality and unreality is called reality, rhetoric has replaced reason, free speech is now hate speech, and real hate speech is classified as free speech, criminal behavior is rewarded and downplayed, sins people used to be ashamed of now are showcased and protected by twisted laws, common sense is out, and nonsense is in, and so forth.
How should a Christian function in twisted times like this? Paul gives us sound, sensible advice:
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which can give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3).
Translated, you should remain staunchly committed to the spiritual truths your mother built into you from childhood.
Verse 15 gives us a peek into Timothy’s upbringing with a model mother. As a Jew, his mother had access to the sacred writings which constituted the Old Testament. Once she became convinced through Paul’s excellent teaching and analysis that Jesus was, in fact, the long-awaited Messiah and Savior, she wasted no time making sure her son knew how those Scriptures pointed to Him. This mentoring between a mother and son gave him all he needed to get saved and learn how to live wisely before God. How instructive. She didn’t leave instruction to the church, as important as this is. She poured her life, understanding of the Scriptures, and insight into how the stories and prophecies looked for completion in Jesus. I wonder what she said to Timothy as they read the sacred Scriptures? I can guess.
- Honey, in Leviticus, we learn how Jesus became the final Passover Lamb for our sin. The Feast of Firstfruits speaks of Christ’s resurrection as the first fruit of all believers who will one day rise from the grave (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
- Honey, in Numbers, we learn as a look of faith to the bronze serpent cured people bitten by poisonous snakes because of their sin, so, too, are we healed from the bite of sin when we look to Jesus who was lifted up (John 3:14).
- Honey, in 2 Samuel, we learn how Jesus, from the Davidic line, is the Messiah who was suited to be the prophesied Davidic messianic king of kings.
- Honey, in Nehemiah, we learn how the King’s cupbearer portrayed His ministry of rebuilding and restoration. Yes, Nehemiah illustrates how the Savior gave up a unique position to identify with his people’s plight so a special mission could be realized for God.
- Honey, in Amos, we learn how the Savior is the Judge who will one day bring restoration to our people, Israel (Amos 9:11-15).
I could go on as I’m sure Eunice did, but I’m sure you see the point. A model mother teaches her child the Scriptures and how to understand them. This is all so important for such instruction can lead a child to salvation, and it will also serve to equip them for living impactful, meaningful lives as the sun sets on world cultures. This, folks, is what our nation needs more of: mothers who teach their children the power and wonder of the Word of God. Others have written over the years about the high value of the sacred Scriptures:
It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s guide, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, the Christian’s character.
The Bible is, indeed, all of these concepts and more. Concerning the high value of the Bible, Ruth Graham states,
If our children have the background of a godly, happy home and this unshakable faith that the Bible is indeed the Word of God, they will have a foundation that the forces of hell cannot shake.
Timothy’s faith empowered him to take on the forces of hell in his day, and that faith was grounded upon all those special times he had with his mother pouring over the Word. Amazing and instructive too. Thanks, Eunice, for the model.
Thank you, mom, for learning from Eunice. The Word of God was showcased and discussed in my home. I never had a time when my parents didn’t give me a Bible to read and study. I still have each one of them. Here is a copy of the Bible they gave me when I went away to college. It’s a Scofield Reference Bible, and it served me well as I learned the Scriptures during four years of Bible school, followed by four years at Dallas Theological Seminary. I eventually moved on to another Bible because this one became too marked up and tattered, but I still benefited from its impact on my young life. Again, thank you, mom. Thanks for helping me not just love God’s Word but to understand its value for my life.
What about you? Is this book the book in your family? Is it what you read, study, and discuss? Do you relate it to life? Do you talk about how it gives wisdom and direction with tough decisions? Do you show how it brings hope and healing to those who are afraid or hurting? Model mothers know what I’m talking about, and I know we have many of them in oubodiesdy. That’s why our children’s and youth program are so full. And from what I hear from teachers, these young people come to class with a sound understanding of the Word, enabling them to ask excellent questions. This reality is merely a testimony of your hard work and extraordinary life impact. May God continue to bless you as you showcase the Scriptures in your family.
A final trait is buried in Acts 16, verse 1:
1 And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek . . . (Acts 16).
The closing clause introduces us to this admirable trait of a model mother. Here is how I would couch it:
A Model Mother Lives Out The Christian Faith In A Tough Environment
What was the harsh environment for Eunice, a Christian Jew? Her home. Why? It was challenging because her husband was a Greek, not a believer. This leaves us with several observations.
One, Eunice either became a believer after she married, or she went against Scripture and married a non-Christian. Either way, she must have had a hard time because he most likely didn’t support her newfound faith. After all, he was a Greek.
Two, what did this mean? It probably meant Timothy’s father was wrapped up in Grecian mythology. If so, he would have believed gods and goddesses controlled nature and guided the lives of humanity. He would have thought the gods and goddesses lacked all-power. He would have practiced perpetual rituals to please the fickle gods and goddesses to make sure they acted favorably toward him. It probably also meant Timothy’s father enjoyed reading and studying the works of Socrates and his famous student Plato. He might have even dug into the massive writings of Aristotle and entertained the voluminous works of one Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC), who wrote ¾ of all extant Latin literature in his day and time.
None of this, however, would have satisfied his eternal soul. Pragmatically, Timothy would have easily seen how weak and worthless the Greek gods and goddesses were. They had all the sinful activity humans had; therefore, how could they ever be seen as great gods. They fought each other, had affairs, produced illegitimate children, acted without pity, etc. They were far from divine, and this reality would have left a vacuous hole in Timothy’s father’s heart. And the writings of the greatest thinkers of the day would not have satisfied either. Their thinking challenged the mind, but they did nothing to help a sinner with his sin. Only the Savior could do that. Indeed, the wisdom Timothy gained from God’s Word taught him how to spot error and know truth. His father, however, sadly was just known by his ethnicity: he was a Greek and nothing more before the living God.
From this one little clause, we learn something unique about Eunice. In a home where Christ was not worshipped, the Word of God was not elevated, and inferior truths had replaced superior truth, Eunice didn’t flinch. She respectfully and quietly made sure her son knew the living Lord and Savior and possessed a deep and detailed understanding of God’s inspired and inerrant Word.
Once more, let the model of Eunice be your guide for you, too, might live in a home where one of the marriage partners doesn’t embrace the Faith. What should you do? Show respect to your mate, love, sacrifice, and listen to them, but when it comes to introducing your child to Jesus and teaching them the Bible, let there be an act of quiet, relentless courage. God rewarded Eunice with a great, gifted child who accomplished much for God. He will do the same for you.
And if you are fortunate to have a model mother, what’s the greatest gift you can give her today? For one, embrace the Savior, Jesus, as your Savior. For another, let her know you will be committed to the biblical truths she poured into your life until God calls you home. Do these two things, and you will not only bring a warm smile to her face, but you will bring a loving smile to the face of the Lord.