Some years ago, I heard a great preacher speaking on Romans 7: 4: ‘’So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.’’ He talked about different types of spiritual fruit, one being the fruit of spiritual children. He asked us, ‘Do you have any?’ Then, turning to a couple who were sitting on the same platform, he said, ‘Here are two of mine.’ He lovingly walked over to them and put his arm around them. Just a few years earlier he had led them to Christ and now they were in the ministry. The bonds between them were evident. It was a poignant moment.
Consider in our short passage:
- The joy of spiritual parenthood (2a): ‘’To Timothy, my beloved child.’’ You want the very best gifts for your children. Whatever you have given them at Christmas, you know that life’s best and most important things do not come wrapped up in prettily packaged parcels. What better to wish for your children than: ‘’Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.’’ (2b). Here are enduring things that will never end up in a rubbish dump. We will never outgrow our need for them. As parents, we also want to encourage our children to grow and develop and use their gifts – become the people God destined them to be. Spiritual parents have similar desires for their offspring (6, 7). Paul did not want to see any inherent timidity holding Timothy back.
- The bonds of spiritual parenthood (4): Timothy’s ‘’tears’’ may well have come at a time when he and his ‘dad’ in Christ were parted. Understandably, there were strong emotions felt by this pair. There was a significant attachment.
- The influence of natural family (5): It may have been through Paul that Timothy became a Christian, but Paul recognised the vital role played by a devout family upbringing. It is true that ‘’God has no grandchildren.’’ You can’t get into heaven on your parents’ ticket. But I do know from personal experience the great blessing it is to be raised in a Christian family. I thank God for my parents, David and Jessie Thompson, who prayed for me, and brought me up to go to church every Sunday. They taught me about Jesus. How grateful I am for Reg Thompson, my dad’s dad, who, as a widower, was often around in my early years. The influence of his quietly godly life is something I will never forget. It is a blessing to have a Christian family.