Passing on Faith
Text: 2 Tim. 1:3-7
by Robert J. Young

Today is Mothers' Day. This is a time to honor: mothers, who has been a mother the longest (eldest child), who has most children, most grandchildren....
My mother has been gone five years last Thanksgiving, taken prematurely in auto accident. If you have your mother today, you are blessed. If not, I trust you are blessed with memories.

Our text today is 2 Tim. 1:3-14. Our lesson today is faith. Where does faith come from? Where do we get it? We all give the answer, Rom. 10:17, but there is more. Faith is not something mysterious, better felt than told, not emotional, but faith is passed on. Faith is taught, faith is also caught. Timothy had faith, but his faith first dwelt in others--in his mother and grandmother, Eunice and Lois. They shared their faith, they passed on their faith. They set the example.
For each of us, someone has had a part in developing our faith. We did not discover it all by ourselves. We did not find faith in a vacuum. Others were involved. Someone helped us, we began the walk, faith developed. Many have not understood that faith develops. Faith does not begin full-grown. Faith begins small, but that is enough. Someone helps us on our journey, and for many of us, those persons who helped us along our faith journey were our parents, our mothers, our grandmothers.
Now what will we do? How shall we respond? We have faith, our faith is somewhat developed, what shall we do? Paul writes Timothy with several suggestions.

I. Keep it alive, keep your faith alive, vv. 5-6.
Each generation has this task, faith must be developed anew in each generation. You cannot survive on my faith. Keep faith alive. The dynamic of the NT is individual faith. Relationship with God is based on that individual faith. You do not get relationship first, faith second. Faith is thought. Faith acts, relationship follows. What are you doing to keep faith alive. In a shrinking church, what is the status of faith? What will happen? What will we let happen? To keep faith alive was for Timothy a tribute to those who had gone before.

2. Grow it. Grow in faith, v. 7.
We do not consider this. We do not remember that faith does not begin full-grown. The nature of faith must be understood. Faith must be real. Faith opposes fear, faith brings power/ability, love, good judgment. How do you know if your faith is grown?

3. Guard the faith, v. 14.
Too many do not think the faith needs guarding. It is so easily let go. Before long, we have forgotten. Here is spiritual health, here is vitality, here is the basis of all that is good and right. Here are strong families, here is respect for people. Guard that faith. It has now been entrusted to you. Even if your spiritual fathers or mothers are alive, it is yours now. Guard it.

One final thing--pass it on, pass it on to others will keep it alive, grow it, guard it. Read 2:1ff again. Be strong, Timothy, and pass on faith. Paul passed to Timothy a message which he could pass to others who would tell others. Lois passed faith to Eunice, they passed faith to Timothy, Timothy was to pass it to others who would tell yet others.
Do you have faith? Are you keeping it alive, or is it snoozing in your life? No greater honor I can pay my mother now than to live the way she taught me to live. I have often spoken of the things I did not do when I was growing up in a single-parent home, not because I was afraid I would get caught, but because I knew it would break my mothers' heart if she ever found out. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise attached, that it may go well with you. This is still true. We honor our physical mothers, we honor our spiritual mothers.
Faith--keep it alive, grow it, guard it. If you have not faithfully kept faith, change. Repent, do differently. We cannot keep it alive, grow it, guard it, until have let it begin in our lives. Perhaps your small faith today needs to begin acting. Obeying, serving, imitating.
Perhaps your need today is to obey our Lord by mirroring his action for us--death, burial, resurrection. The old person can die, be buried, and a new one come forth, faith acting. Salvation, by grace, through faith.

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Last updated February 26, 2001.