“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy:1:5
Not every child is as lucky as Timothy. We don’t all have pious mothers, and many who don’t still grow up to find Christ. We can’t inherit our faith. However, it is true that parents influence us, and I thought Mother’s Day is a good time to remember and celebrate that.
Did you know that when people are asked who had the greatest influence on their faith life the most common answer given is “my mother”? (I’m sure grandmothers are in the mix as well.) Children don’t “catch” their mothers’ faith through book learning or Bible reading, even if that goes on. They catch it from seeing a person who lives her life for Christ; a woman who practices what the Bible teaches. I remember reading years ago that children learn in three ways: by example, by example, and by example.
So to all of us who are mothers and grandmothers, let’s pray every day to be good examples of piety to our children and grandchildren — not the fake, whitewashed piety of the Pharisees, but the real deal; the kind they will respect and want to imitate. And if you’re not a parent, don’t worry! You’re still called to be a role model to younger Christians. You may be the Sunday School teacher, the Youth leader, the mentor who will always be remembered and cherished for pointing the way to Jesus.
Maybe some of our other authors and readers have stories they would like to share. Who were the women who modeled true piety in your life? Was it a mother, grandmother, Sunday School teacher or friend? I’d like to hear about them.
What stands out for me in Chapter 13 is the instruction to appreciate our leaders. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pastor’s wife, and see up close and personal what a difficult job it can be.
Here’s the first thing the author has to say about leaders:
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7
Of course, leaders are not just our pastors. Most of us can point to others in our lives who have told us about Christ and served as an example to us. Who has guided and influenced you in your Christian walk? Your parents? Your spouse? A friend? Take time to remember and be thankful for those folks. They are part of your personal “cloud of witnesses.”
“Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17
Nothing saddens a pastor or Christian leader more than seeing someone turn their back on God, walk away from the church and her teachings. This hurts more than you can imagine. They have a sense of failure before God. Make your leaders glad by being faithful. That is the best ‘thank you’ you can give them.
“Pray for us …” Hebrews 13:18
As you remember and give thanks for the leaders of your church and denomination, please pray for them. They are not perfect and their lives are not free from worry and care. They have many of the same problems you do. They are doing their best to serve God and you.
Your leaders love you and so do I!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before us, looking to Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1
Have you ever heard a Christian talk about their ‘life verse’? Well, this one from Hebrews is mine. To me, this verse and this whole chapter is about persevering in the Christian walk. How do we do that? By keeping our focus on Jesus, and being inspired and encouraged by the example of other faithful Christians.
In the last chapter, we heard about all the great people of the past, who endured trials for their faith, even before the promises of God were fully revealed. It’s been called “the hall of fame of faith.” This hall of fame is not yet complete. Now we’re the ones running the race while the host that went before cheers us on. Sometimes we’ll get tired; sometimes God will discipline us; sometimes sin will trip us up. We need to keep going, with the help of Christ and our fellow believers.
Who’s in your faithful “hall of fame”? Your parents? Your pastor? Your childhood Sunday School teachers? Your spouse? A friend? Write down your list, and then say a prayer of thanks for those who have molded and shaped you, and helped you to keep going.
He (Job) said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
My friend, Paul, was a good man and he was dying. After retiring from a successful career, he spent much of his time volunteering at the local rescue mission, working with alcoholics and addicts. He was a faithful, generous member of our congregation and an example of Christian living to all who knew him.
The rare and aggressive form of leukemia which Paul contracted did not respond to treatment. Yet he did not rail against his fate or question God’s goodness. He simply continued to use the time God had given him. Each time he was hospitalized he pushed his IV pole through the wards, handing out Bibles and telling others about Jesus.
Paul knew that everything he had belonged to God: his time, his money, even his life. He spent it all wisely. His life was a “living sacrifice.”
Gracious God, teach us to remember that everything comes from your hand. Help us to use all our circumstances as an opportunity to praise and thank you. Amen
For further reading check out Lamentations 3:1-24; Philippians 1:12-30; Matthew 26:36-42; Psalm 23
Who has been an example of living sacrifice to you?