We pick up the story of Paul in Acts chapter 16, “Paul went first to Derbe and then to Lystra, where there was a young disciple named Timothy. His mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was a Greek. Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey” (Acts 16:1-3a). I have two observations about this biblical paragraph. First I believe Paul saw something in Timothy; potential. The other is that Paul invited timothy to join him on the journey.
The Christian message is not something we pass on like we are selling a product, always ready to close the deal. It’s more like inviting others to join us on a spiritual journey. What better activity can we participate in than to invite others to join us in this journey? According to the book Reimagining Evangelism, we are to be more like spiritual guides than salesmen. Paul was a mentor to the young Timothy. We also should seek out younger people into whom we can invest our lives. Younger people should seek out others who are more mature and whom they respect; seeing in the lives of others that which they want to possess and develop in their own lives.
When it comes to the Christian growth process, sometimes mentoring is synonymous with discipleship. Paul saw the potential for ministry that Timothy possessed. So much so that he wanted to eliminate any potential obstacle that might prevent the Jews from hearing the gospel (Acts 16:3). Since his mother was a Jew, Timothy was circumcised so that the Jews would not be offended and close their minds to his testimony.
Paul encouraged Timothy not to let anyone look down on his youthfulness (1 Timothy 4:12), and this advice came about fifteen years after Timothy first joined Paul. Timothy had been a man of faith from early childhood, being familiar with the Scriptures since cradle roll (2 Timothy 3:15). With a little mentoring, Paul knew that Timothy had great potential for bearing fruit, and his youthfulness was a benefit rather than a hindrance.
I am convinced that anyone mature enough to surrender to the will of God is mature enough for God to use. Students, you are the missionary to your campus. Men, you are the ambassador for Christ in your workplace. We need to encourage those who are attempting to make a difference in their sphere of influence.
Timothy was a great protege for another reason, his upbringing. With a Jewish mother and a Greek father, he was uniquely qualified to understand differing belief systems. How often do people today come from families that are not united in their love for Christ; where one parent is a believer and the other is not? The Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14), which means don’t get involved with someone who does not even exist on this planet for the same reason as you. Joining together two completely different belief systems is a recipe for disaster, unless the believer is not really serious about their faith. I am praying for Bethany’s future spouse (have been for 14 years); that she will one day meet a man who loves Jesus with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, and sees Bethany for the treasure that she is.It is such a tragedy when a believer gets involved with an unbeliever… and I never believed that missionary dating was a good idea. With rare exception, rather than bring the unbeliever up toward Christ, generally the believer gets dragged down the path of compromise.
I also see that Timothy had his faith passed down from his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). While no one is perfect, we can raise godly children in spite of ourselves; but remember that we are not doing it alone. We must turn our kids over to God; remember that He cares for them way more than we ever could. We need to be genuine examples of faith to our kids, because the sins of the fathers are passed on (Exodus 20:5).
Application: What has been your heritage of faith? What do you plan on leaving as a legacy to your next generation? Is there someone into whom you are investing for eternity, even outside of your immediate family? Who is your spiritual father, and who are your spiritual children? Perhaps meditate on and pray for your family tree. Just think how your faithfulness will carry on to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:9).