By James Beinke
Tuesday, May 01, 1990
One day four ministers stood talking and, as so often happens, the conversation soon drifted to shop talk. "I prefer the King James Version of Scripture," said one, "for its eloquent use of the English language." A second minister gave forth that no Bible could match the New American Standard for its faithfulness to the original Greek and Hebrew text. "That may well be," said the third, "but I prefer the New International Version for its contemporary language and easy readability." There was a thoughtful period of silence, and then the fourth minister said, "I like my mother's translation best." It was with some surprise that the others said: "We didn't know that your mother had translated the Bible." "Yes, she did," he replied. "She translated it into her daily life, and it was through her translation that I came to faith."
Paul mentions Timothy as co-sender of six of his letters. He also spoke highly of Timothy in his letter to the Philippians. So confident was Paul of Timothy's faith that, in his first letter to Timothy, he called Timothy "my true son in the faith." Timothy became for Paul what Barnabas could not be -- the inheritor of Paul's mission. In Paul's final letter to Timothy, written near the end of his life, he speaks without reserve, calling Timothy "my beloved child," for Timothy was truly part of Paul's lineage, wealth and crown.We know Timothy's real father was a Greek and his mother a Jewish Christian, but Paul, who seems never to have married, found in Timothy a "descendant," someone who would carry on the "family name" -- as it were -- someone so identical in faith that the force of his work for Christ would always complement that of his mentor, teacher and surrogate father: Paul.In essence Paul said: "Timothy, I know your grandmother, and her faith is authentic. It is the same faith I have observed in your mother, and after having watched you all this time I am convinced of your faith also." To describe that faith, Paul used a word which means literally, "without hypocrisy." Lois and Eunice showed Timothy by word and example what it means to live an authentic faith; a faith from which hypocrisy is totally absent, the real thing, genuine, sincere. What higher accolade or greater tribute could be given any mother or grandmother on this Mother's Day than to say: You gave me authentic faith!Those who are parents will understand when I say that each day I become more aware that our true wealth is in our children. Parents soon learn that it is not possible to convey the depth of joy or pain they experience through their children's lives. In the same way, children learn that it is not possible to adequately express the depth of love one has for a parent. But this ongoing dialogue of joy, love, pain, hope and dreams is especially true of the relationship existing between a mother and her offspring. It is mothers and grandmothers who transmit hope and faith from generation to generation.
I thought it fitting, on this Mother's Day, that we remember two mothers: Lois, who was grandmother of Timothy, and Eunice, Timothy's mother. In particular, I want to honor the heritage given Timothy because a mother and a grandmother loved him enough to give him their most precious possession: the gift of faith.