The apostle Paul, during his missionary activities in Derbe and Lystra (Acts 16:1a), met a young man whose name was Timothy. This meeting was according to God’s providence, as the Lord brought these two together to serve in ministry. In the book of Acts we learn that Timothy was “the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1b), and that Timothy “was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16:2). That is, Timothy had a good reputation as a growing believer. It appears that Timothy grew up in a home where his mother was a believer, but his father was not. Paul saw Timothy as a valuable asset and wanted him “to go with him” (Acts 16:3) on his missionary travels to help lead others to Christ. Timothy responded positively to God’s call and was used by the Lord.
Timothy was a good disciple and helpful minister to Paul, and this because he was positive to the Lord and walked in His Word. But Timothy’s godly life was no accident. He’d been influenced by his mother and grandmother who helped shape his character. Paul wrote to Timothy, “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…and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 1:5; 3:15). Timothy’s mother and grandmother had a big influence on his upbringing, which led to his conversion and spiritual growth. The spiritual seeds they’d planted in his young heart sprouted and flourished into a productive spiritual ministry. Later, God used the apostle Paul to help Timothy advance further in his spiritual journey, and Timothy grew to be a blessing to others.
After years of ministry, as Paul approached the end of his life, he wrote two letters to Timothy, to instruct and encourage him further in his walk with the Lord. Paul directed Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). Timothy needed to study God’s Word for himself, as it would help advance his knowledge of God and His will. Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). And, as Timothy advanced in ministry, he was to be faithful to “preach the word; to be ready in season and out of season; to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim 4:2). The godly influence that started with Timothy in his home, grew into a successful life and ministry to others.
I am greatly touched by Timothy’s story. As a young boy growing up in southern California, I was blessed with a godly grandmother who taught me the Scriptures at a young age. She gave me what I needed to be saved and to begin my spiritual journey of service to the Lord and others. For that I am very thankful. Of course, what she’d planted at a young age of eight and nine did not come to life and bear fruit until after I was 21 and had lived like the devil for several years. She died before she got to see the influence she’d had on me. But thank God for my grandmother. By the grace of God, the seeds she’d planted came to life, and now there’s been fruit for over thirty years of Christian ministry. The prodigal son came home.
I realize many of you may not have had such a godly family influence at a young age as Timothy did. That’s fine. God has chosen your specific path of life because it’s part of His master plan for you. Your journey is your own, chosen by the Lord Himself. But if you are a Christian and serving the Lord, then someone somewhere touched you with the gospel of grace and Bible teaching, and those seeds of truth are bearing fruit. And now He calls YOU to be a godly influence on others, whether family, friends, co-workers, or whoever the Lord puts in your path. And as a faithful Christian, you are only responsible for your godly output, not the outcome of response by others. You are to let your light shine for others to see and to plant seeds of truth in a loving way, and God will cause the growth in the lives of those you touch, if the soil of their heart is good.
Dr. Steven R. Cook