Paul discussed the connection between truth and family relationships in 2 Timothy 3:14–16. First, there must be a relationship with the learner. Here’s verse 14: “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.” Take a moment and read that verse again. Do you see anything strange? There is something in there that I would not have expected to see. I would have expected Paul to say, “Timothy, keep on going in the things you have learned, knowing what you have learned.” But that is not what he says. I would have anticipated Paul to say, “Timothy, keep on going in the things you have learned, knowing how you learned them. You do remember all the stuff you had to go through to learn this, don’t you? Do you want to go through that again?” But again, that is not what Paul says. My third choice would have been, “Timothy, keep on going in the things you have learned, knowing why you learned them. Everyone knows the importance of remembering the lessons we learn during hardship.” But he doesn’t say that either.
The thing Paul highlights is this: “Timothy, keep on going in the things you have learned, knowing from whom you learned them.” Paul says, “Hey, do you know what’s really important? It’s the relationship.” What matters most is not what or how or why Timothy learned—it’s who did the teaching that was paramount.
You say to yourself, “Well, of course he would say that. I mean, if the apostle Paul had been my teacher, I think who taught me would have been really important, too. But I didn’t have a teacher like that.” Hold on! Paul wasn’t talking about himself teaching Timothy, because in the beginning of the next verse, he references Timothy’s childhood: “Knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings.”
Who teaches the members of our family truth is a very important matter, and it must not be overlooked. And who had taught Timothy? Flip back to 2 Timothy 1:5, where Paul wrote, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” That ought to encourage every single parent. Timothy’s father was Greek and apparently did not worship the God of Israel (Acts 16:1, 3), but Timothy had a faithful mother and grandmother who poured truth into his life. It is absolutely vital for us to understand that truth is most powerfully taught in the context of relationship.
I remember a family from the church where I grew up. The mother was very musical and played an instrument in every worship service. The father was there with his kids every time the doors of the church opened. He even taught the truth at home over the dinner table and lived a life of integrity. But he was not a friend to his kids. He was cold and harsh and distant. He was often angry, and he consistently and increasingly withheld himself from his kids as they began to rebel against his “rules without relationship.” Suffice it to say, some of his kids did not come back to the Lord until they were in their mid-thirties, and others have still not come back.
The father may be with the Lord by now, but sadly some of his kids may never be because truth was not taught in the context of relationship.
It is not your pastor’s job to teach the Word of God to your kids. It is not the AWANA leader’s job. It is not the Sunday School teacher’s or the youth worker’s responsibility. Praise God for those supplemental things. But it is our job as parents to teach our children the Word of God.
Parents, if you are getting that done, I just want to encourage you. Even if your kids struggle, even if they wander, I believe with all of my heart that they are coming back. They won’t stay away forever. The blessing will bring them back, and they will return to the truths that you have over many years poured into their hearts—provided you taught that truth in the context of a relationship.
FG_AUTHORS: James MacDonald