Reaching Our Children (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
Tammy had a great deal of trouble giving birth to RJ. Her blood pressure was far too high throughout most of the pregnancy. About three weeks before her due date, Tammy’s doctor wanted to do a final ultrasound to make sure that she could go ahead and induce Tammy. On a Monday morning, Tammy and I went to the small hospital in my hometown and did the ultrasound. We then drove to the doctor’s office for the verdict. Tammy and I were the only ones in the waiting room. The doctor just poked her head out and said, “Everything’s a go. We’re having a baby tomorrow.” I don’t know exactly the expression I had on my face, but Dr. Eastham was concerned. She came over and put her arm around me and said, “Don’t worry, honey. This too shall pass.”
The next several days were a blur of emotion and worry. No matter what the doctor did, Tammy’s blood pressure would not stay down. When Tammy finally went into labor three days later, RJ’s heart rate began to fall dangerously low. We rushed to the operating room for an emergency caesarean. Tammy was a wreck (emotionally and physically); one of the nurses very kindly uncovered her hand so that she and I could hold hands during the procedure. Of course, I couldn’t let Tammy know how scared I was–except for that momentary lapse in the doctor’s office, I never showed how anxious or frightened I was.
RJ was born very healthy and Tammy was doing quite well. I left the OR to tell our waiting families that the baby was here and both mommy and baby were healthy. I saw our waiting families and all of that anxiety and fear came to the surface. Tammy’s mom was there and I just fell into her arms and sobbed.
When Wil was born, things were much different. Tammy’s pregnancy was much easier, and the day he was born, there was much more excitement than anxiety. Yet, on both days, I became responsible for the spiritual health and wellbeing of those two boys.
There are few days as meaningful in a parent’s life as the day your children are born. I’m sure that each of you parents has stories to tell. You fathers would tell about pacing in the waiting room, or, if you’re young enough, of holding your wife’s hand as your child was delivered. You mothers would talk about when a nurse placed that baby in your arms for the first time. As many sweet stories as we might tell, there is no more serious work than raising children.
It seems to me that every year raising children becomes an even greater challenge. What is called “children’s programing” is becoming more and more inappropriate for my boys. Sometimes what my boys learn at school needs to be dismantled and retaught at home.
What are we to do in this modern world? We wish to learn from Timothy’s experience this morning. What we learn is: “We must teach our children Scripture.”
Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-15)
Timothy needed to continue. The Greek term carries the idea of staying put, of remaining. It’s often used of people living in a certain place. The Greek is also a present active imperative and means, “You keep on doing this.”
Timothy could not stop continuing in what he had learned as a child. He had to persevere. Can you imagine what would happen if he did not remain in the truth of Scripture? Some guy starts teaching a new doctrine in Ephesus, and Timothy thinks it’s the best thing ever. He gets caught up in it and the church in Ephesus quickly goes into error. Timothy has children of his own, but he’s left the truth of God so those children are not brought up to know Jesus. If we are to reach our children, we must persevere in truth ourselves, and we need to teach them to do the same.
Timothy needed to continue in the things which he had learned. In Timothy’s day, Jewish parents started teaching their children the Torah when the children reached five years of age. We know that Timothy’s father was a Gentile (Acts 16:1), but his mother Eunice was a faithful believer (2 Tim 1:5). God had instructed His people to teach their children (Deut 6:7), and Eunice was apparently faithful in doing so.
While Timothy was already a disciple when Paul first encountered him (Acts 16:1), Paul seems to have been a mentor to this young man. He circumcised Timothy so that Timothy could accompany him on his missionary journeys (Acts 16:3). The two epistles Paul wrote to him portray a very close relationship, one with a mentor and a protege.
Timothy needed to continue in the things which he had had learned and been assured of. For Timothy, the things his mother taught him weren’t “iffy”–there was no doubt–he had been assured of these things. Timothy’s mother must have taken great time to teach her son. I’m sure the time with Paul reinforced everything he had been taught.
Timothy was to know from whom he had learned these things. Honestly, this section of our text caused a great deal of gut checking on my part. Paul implies here that the messenger plays a big role in the message. We understand that on one level, it doesn’t matter who the teacher is–in 1 Corinthians 3:1-8, Paul tells the Corinthian church not to get caught up in who is doing the preaching. However, those who teach must live consistently with the message. Paul seems to be saying to Timothy, remember how your grandmother and mother not only taught you but how that message transformed them and how they lived according to the message. Throughout 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul instructs his young protege, not just on how to preach, but on how to live–e.g., 2 Timothy 2:22-26. Those who practice what they preach are a powerful force for good in this world.
Timothy had known the Old Testament Scriptures from childhood. Two things we need to grasp:
- The Scriptures are understandable. We sometimes hear that the Bible is just too difficult to understand. But, if Timothy could know the Scriptures from childhood, surely they are understandable.
- Timothy had been taught the Scriptures from childhood–Timothy’s mother and grandmother had raised him to know the Word of God.
The Scriptures could make Timothy wise for salvation through faith. That’s why it’s so imperative that we teach our children Scripture–salvation comes through faith and faith comes through Scripture.
“We must teach our children Scripture.” What are some ways we need to do so?
First, we must set aside time to teach.
Timothy was to continue in the things had had learned, knowing from whom he had learned them. God has given parents the obligation of raising our children to know Jesus. Psalm 78:5-7. “You, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph 6:4).
Here’s what we need to be doing:
- Set aside time every week to teach your children Scripture. Scripture must also be what we teach–not opinions, not ideas. In our home, we use a Bible study put together by a congregation in Texas, but we read verses of Scripture and then have a guided discussion about those verses.
- Teach often between set times. There are so many teachable moments–some commercial on TV, something that happened at school. We need to seize those moments and fill them with God’s standards.
- Pray for wisdom as you teach. God answers prayers for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (Js 1:5). We need wisdom to help our children navigate this sinful world.
Second, we must assure our children of the truthfulness of Scripture. Timothy had been assured of the things he had been taught. Scripture was written that we may be assured of the things we have been taught. Luke 1:1-4. “These [things] are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn 20:31).
Here’s what we can do:
- Create an environment where our children can ask difficult questions.
- Provide a biblical response to those questions–we may have to do some digging.
- Ask for help when we need it.
Third, we must model right behavior. Timothy knew from whom he had learned truth. Our children are going to know from whom they learned truth. How will the teacher impact their lives?
In the home, we have a great opportunity to supplement what we teach with the way we live. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16).
That’s so important in front of our children, for they see us at our best and at our worst. Do they see inconsistent behavior? Do they see us profess one thing and live another? Do they see repentance when it’s called for? What do they see this morning? What does God see this morning? Do you have things to make right?