Jump Start # 1933
Acts 16:3 “Paul wanted this man to go with him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they knew that his father was a Greek.”
Our verse today is the introduction of the apostle Paul to the young man Timothy. I recently taught a class about Timothy’s home. There are some impressive things to notice. He lived in Lystra. His father was Greek. Nothing else is said of his father. There is no indication that his father believed. Timothy’s mother, Eunice, is identified to us as a believer. She and her mother Lois, not only had a sincere faith but they taught the Scriptures to Timothy as a child.
As Timothy grew, he too became a believer. He was used among the brethren not just in Lystra but also in Iconium. The brethren spoke well of Timothy.
Paul comes into town. He meets Timothy and hears about him. Impressed, Paul wants to take Timothy with him. And that, he does. We read of Timothy with Paul when Colossians and Ephesians were written. Timothy was sent to Thessalonica. He was sent to Corinth. He was at Ephesus when 1 & 2 Timothy were written. The end of Hebrews tells us that Timothy was released, which implies that he had been in prison. Timothy’s name is found in twelve of the N.T. books. He plays a dominate role in strengthening the churches that Paul had established.
All of this began with our verse today. There are two thoughts for us.
Mama Eunice allowed Timothy to go. We don’t know how old Timothy was, but twice in the letters to Timothy, Paul refers to his youthfulness. Was he a teenager or perhaps early 20’s? His life was all ahead of him. So many opportunities. Go to school. Get a degree. Find a great job. Marry a nice Christian girl. Have lots of babies. Those are the dreams of parents. Kids living nearby so you can see those grandbabies. What a wonderful dream.
Paul wanted Timothy to go with him. Eunice let Timothy go. Do you understand what this involved? This wasn’t a few weeks of vacation. Two chapter before, Acts 14, Paul had been dragged out of town and stoned. The injuries were so severe that they assumed he was dead. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul gives us a list of what he experienced as an apostle. They weren’t rock stars traveling in limos. He was stoned. He was beaten with rods. He was in constant dangers. He was hungry. Poorly treated. This wasn’t a fast ticket to get rich. This wasn’t going to get his names in the light. Paul was hunted down. He was chased.
And this man wants Timothy to go with him. Can you imagine setting your son free to travel under such conditions. Also, this wasn’t the days of Facebook, cell phones, or Facetime. Mail, as it was, was so, expensive, slow and not much. Letting Timothy go, meant that his mother wouldn’t see him for a long, long time. With Timothy getting this preaching bug, chances are he and his family would live far away. Timothy wasn’t going to be the preacher at Lystra, where mama attended. He was out on the road. He was in different cities and in different countries. And, Eunice let him go.
The second thing we notice, is that Timothy seems to want to go with Paul. We don’t find him being taken against his will. We don’t see him kicking and screaming. We don’t find him deserting Paul like Demas did. He wasn’t always with Paul. He was sent to places by himself. This is what he wanted to do. This was his life’s love and work. He wanted to preach and teach God’s word.
Eunice has left us with two powerful examples.
First, she raised a son who would serve in the kingdom. By the time Paul comes to town, Timothy was already well spoken of by the brethren. He had already been useful among them. This didn’t come from Paul. This came from Eunice. She raised a son who loved the Lord and saw the importance of using his talents in the kingdom. This was a family that definitely put the kingdom first.
I wonder if we could do what Eunice did? Today, the thought is make as much money as you can son. The thought is, throw that ball, get those grades, succeed, make money. And as a result, so many congregations today are plagued with a lack of male leadership. The men sit around not even wanting to lead a prayer. The church struggles. A preacher moves away and the church nearly dies until the next preacher is found. No one can step up. No one knows how to preach. No one can write an article. Where are the Timothy’s today? Where are the families that are raising their sons to serve as elders and preachers? Have we put too much into making money, living close to us, and being happy than we have in the furtherance of the kingdom? Have we done a good job explaining the value of the kingdom? Have we burned within the hearts of our children the importance of serving? Have they seen us busy in the kingdom? Have they seen us having families in our homes? Paul came and Eunice let him go. I wonder if we would have let our sons go? I wonder if Paul would have noticed our sons? I wonder if our sons would have any reputation among the brethren? All this came not from Timothy’s dad, but from a mom who put Christ before all things. Why are there so few preachers and elders today? Do we really need to ask that? I think we know.
Second, she put the kingdom before herself. All moms would love to have their children living close to them. I see several generations all worshipping together. That’s a great comfort and a great feeling. I’m sure that Eunice would have wanted the same. But Paul came. He needed Timothy. The kingdom needed Timothy. Eunice put aside her feelings and she allowed him to go. Imagine our Sunday night attendance if we put the kingdom before self. Imagine our weekly contribution if we put the kingdom before self. Now, not everyone can preach, nor should they preach. Work in the kingdom needs to be done at home, whether it’s Lystra or fall away places with Paul. It’s not saying my son has to preach. It’s not saying that he has to move far from home. What we are saying is he puts both eyes on the Lord and the kingdom. Wherever he is, he serves. In college, he’s helping the congregation there. He’s having Bible studies in his dorm room. Married and in an apartment, they have couples over to encourage. He uses his talents to help the congregation he’s with. He may teach. He may lead singing. He may share his knowledge of media and help the church spread the Gospel. His heart says, as Isaiah first said, “Here am I, send me.”
I fear we teach our children to obey the Gospel, then we wipe our brow and we are finished. And they grow up to sit in a pew and do very little. Volunteers are needed and they are no where to be found. Folks need encouragement, but they aren’t the ones to send a card. Someone needs help moving, don’t call on these folks, because they won’t do it. They’ll be there on Sunday, but that’s it. Timothy wasn’t cut from that cloth. He was different. He didn’t get that from dad. His dad was no influence spiritually. He had a mom. He had a mom that was a believer. He had a mom that taught, showed and eventually stood out of the door way so he could leave with Paul.
To a lesser degree, I had parents like that. Most of us who were the first to preach in our family, have a similar story.
The amazing Eunice. She raised a son to follow the Savior.