Many of us can remember the impact that our grandparents had in our own lives. I did not have the opportunity to meet three of my grandparents—two were already dead when I was born, and one was living overseas. But I grew up knowing my maternal grandmother.
We lived in a small house in a village, and our kitchen was in another small hut nearby. I remember waking up in the early hours of the morning to keep my grandmother company in the kitchen while she cooked breakfast for the family. She would be busy cooking while I dozed off at the table. The sight of my grandmother cooking, and the fragrant smells of the food, provided a homely and cosy atmosphere.
More importantly, every morning, before I went to my primary school, I saw living evidence of sacrificial love and service in my grandmother. It left a deep impression on me.
A Godly Heritage
In the New Testament, we read of Timothy, a young pastor and favourite protégé of the apostle He was blessed to have a godly grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice. Both women were converted to the Christian faith—probably through Paul’s ministry during his first missionary journey—along with Timothy. Theirs was a heritage of “sincere faith” (2 Timothy 1:5), for before they became Christians, these women were devout in the practice of their Jewish faith.
Later in 2 Timothy, Paul also remarks how Timothy has a godly heritage, being no stranger to God’s Word. From infancy, Timothy was nurtured in the Jewish faith and was taught the Scriptures (3:15). This was most likely done by his mother and grandmother.
We can imagine Lois and Eunice spending time reading the Scriptures to Timothy and telling him about God and the stories of His people. They must have taught him Jewish hymns and psalms, and initiated him into Jewish practices. Their hearts must have been ready when the gospel was preached to them, for their Jewish faith had already ploughed the ground for the seed of the gospel to be sown. In well-prepared anticipation of Him, they would have easily recognised Jesus as the promised Messiah.
After they became Christians, Lois and Eunice must have continued to encourage and nurture young Timothy. The totality of their faith in God and their newfound faith in Christ would have been an inspiration to the young man. This is the wonderful heritage that Paul reminds Timothy about.
A Grandparent’s Sincere Faith
This one dear grandmother left a lasting impression on her grandson, who eventually became a leader in the New Testament church. We do not have much information on Lois, but what little we know speaks volumes about her and her relationship with God and her grandson.
First, we can see that she loved God and His Word. She taught the Scriptures to her daughter Eunice, and also to Timothy her grandson (3:15). Timothy may have heard his grandmother reading the Scriptures aloud from the time he was an infant. Perhaps he learnt to read them with her, and, in his teenage years, engaged in discussions about what they had read. Such a heritage is lasting and has a strong effect.
When grandparents keep their faith to themselves, not sharing it openly with their offspring, their grandchildren will know little of their faith.
Second, Lois had a sincere faith in Christ (1:5). The Greek word translated as “sincere” means unfeigned or undisguised. Such faith is neither hidden nor hypocritical. When grandparents keep their faith to themselves, not sharing it openly with their offspring, their grandchildren will know little of their faith. When grandparents do not let their practice match their profession of faith, their grandchildren will not accept their faith, because they will see that their faith is not practised, and thus believe that it is not practical.
Lois, in contrast, shared her faith openly with Eunice and Timothy. She also lived out her faith with integrity. It became an infectious and convincing faith that was effectively passed down the generations.
What a rich heritage Lois contributed to her grandson’s life! As grandparents, we can be challenged by her example and consider the following:
- Love God and His Word, and be seen doing so in front of your grandchildren—talk about Bible verses and passages you read, and read Scripture with them.
- Live out your faith sincerely, and let them see your love for God and His righteousness.
- Let them observe you in prayer as you handle life’s difficulties with godly character.
- Encourage your grandchildren to love and trust God, and to read His Word.
Passing On a Lasting Legacy
Timothy became a pastor and bishop in the New Testament church. He became Paul’s fellow missionary and his representative in Corinth and Philippi when Paul was imprisoned. He was one of Paul’s scribes and co-wrote some of Paul’s epistles (2 Corinthians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon). He came to be known as an apostle and ministered in several churches. According to tradition, he died as a martyr at the age of 80, upholding the truth of the Scriptures that he had first learnt from his grandmother.
In effect, Timothy became a “living letter” of his godly grandmother. His name means “honouring God”—what an appropriate name!
We may not fully know how we can make an impact on our grandchildren, but we can make use of the opportunity we have to pass on to them godliness and our love for God and His Word.
Heavenly Father, help me to realise that You want to bless my grandchildren through me. Help me to impress upon them Your greatness and love, and to lead them to You and Your Word. Help me to live in such a way that they can see Christ shining in and through me, without obstruction and pretence. May Your work in me flow into Your work in them.