Training Our Children (3)
We have written of the pathetic influence of alcohol and other drugs; covetousness which expresses itself in robbery, shoplifting, embezzlement, and house breaking; evolution, sexual immorality, and atheism as taught in universities and high school. It is no marvel that men of faith are concerned for their children.
Are parents concerned enough to effectively teach against these evil forces? There is no way under the sun to deep these influences away from the children. They cannot grow up in a bubble isolated from every person and everything. The ungodliness about us is no secret from our children. The music of today and other offerings of television are as vulgar and as dangerous as anything that can be taught in the schools. Some parents provide a television, set for their son's room and allow him to watch whatever he chooses without supervision. Then they may send him to a private school for better training in a better environment. They should not be surprised later to find that he is very familiar with the most deadly influences of evil. The environment in the home may have been in conflict with the environment in the school. Sometimes the environment in the home is better than it is in the public or even private school. That is not always the case. The parents should teach their sons and daughters how to discern between good and evil and to choose the good while rejecting the evil (1 Pet. 3:8-16; Heb. 5:12-14; Isa. 1:16-19). Parents are the ones who have the authority in the home, and they should make the decisions for the children until the children are old enough and mature enough to make them for themselves. The home environment is the one that will have the greatest influence on the child, and parents should not forget that fact.
Timothy grew up at Lystra where there were worshipers of idols who set out to worship Paul and Barnabas after a miracle was performed to confirm the gospel message. Lystra was also the place were Jewish bitterness led a mob to stone Paul until they thought he was dead. (See Acts 14.) This ancient Roman world also had unbelievers (humanists, if you please) who had the immoral attitudes and practices as described in the first chapter of Romans. How could Timothy grow up to be one of the most devout disciples of Christ (Phil. 2:19-23)? He must have been taught to abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good (Rom. 12:9).
I suppose that Timothy's father, who was a Greek, may not have been the great teacher the child Timothy needed (Acts 16:1). His mother "believed, but his father was a Greek." How could this believing mother give the world a strong and faithful gospel preacher in spite of the fact that she likely had no help from her husband? She and her child were surrounded by idolaters, atheists, and Jews who rejected Christ. What hope could she have? How could she give him the proper training? I do not know all about how she did it, but she did train him in the way he should go. She may have cried many times as she considered the difficulty of the task. She was evidently determined to succeed.
Timothy was blessed by his grandmother Lois as well as by his mother Eunice (2 Tim. 1,5; 3:14,15). Who else encouraged this young man in his early life we do not know. If it was possible for these women to succeed it is possible in this decade, but it is not easy. It was not easy then, and it is not easy now, but it can be done. The two special things they gave Timothy are faith and knowledge. (See references above.) With these two precious things well in place, Timothy could go out into a pagan world in face to face encounters with opponents of Christ. He could stand against the fiery darts of the wick ed one (Eph. 6:10-20).
How many parents are there that work very hard to instill faith that can withstand the attacks of the humanists? How many actually teach the word with skill? These are the basic things that lead to spiritual strength. Without these the children will certainly be lost, but with faith and knowledge they can stand. There is need for training in other fields also. Children must be taught skills that will help them to provide for themselves and their families in a physical way. They live in a real world, and they will face real problems of many kinds, physically, morally, and spiritually.
Maybe we can find a place where grammar, math, and physics can be taught if parents demand that the teachers teach these useful subjects rather than situation ethics, sex education, and atheism. In many areas, there are enough parents with respect for righteousness to push the humanists back if they would keep in touch and use their influence. Parents can certainly teach so as to build faith and knowledge, and they can demand that the schools do not destroy their work.
After Paul had visited Lystra, there were other Christians in the city besides Timothy's family. Let us hope that there were worthy associates for Timothy as he grew into manhood. It would have been the responsibility of Eunice and Lois to see that he knew the best. It would not have been their task to see that he was the most popular in the big crowd. They would have gone out for quality of friends instead of quantity.(1 Cor. 15:33). Timothy did not grow up in a bubble in an intensive car unit at the hospital, but he did have intensive care. He knew how to keep his faith and morals while in touch with people. His training enabled him to be a soldier of the cross in a wicked world. This is the very best training which can be given only by truly dedicated teachers to willing pupils.
The Greek and Roman world was without hope and without God, but there were plenty of games for fun and exercise. Athletics was given a place of special importance.
We can be sure that athletics was not so important to Timothy that Eunice's spare time from necessary work was taken in getting him to the games. "Bodily exercise proriteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (1 Tim. 4:8). Yes, exercise has its place, but it is not first place. It is not to wholly consume the time that parents should have with their children. The games are not so important that children cannot attend gospel meetings or do other worthwhile things. They may, in our day as well as in the Roman Empire, easily become the tail that wags the dog.
Timothy did not have the need for physics and math that many Americans have, but Americans today have the same need for faith in and knowledge of the sacred writings that he had. Young people then were in a wicked and unbelieving world just as children of our day are facing sin and unbelief. Faith and Bible knowledge then came by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). They come the same way today. What we really need now is a great increase in the number of people who are determined that their children will have unfeigned faith and useful knowledge of the will of God.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 5, pp. 142-143