Sunday, December 17, 2006

Matt's Messages - Godly Grandparents

“Godly Grandparents”
December 17, 2006
2 Timothy 1:5

I want to remind you that everyone here is invited this afternoon to our Christmas Open House. Heather has been preparing for weeks on end to open our home for a great fellowship time. She has baked all kinds of goodies and boiled up some fudge to share. So, please plan to come between 4 and 8 o’clock tonight. We’re planning to have some Christmas Caroling around 6pm.

We love you, and this is our Christmas gift to you. So, please come.

For the last four months, we have been building our families on the Gospel in a series of messages entitled Home Improvement. We have talked about marriage, homosexuality, parenting, teenagers, singlehood, and widowhood among other things.

We only have a few weeks left in this series. I expect to start the Book of Numbers in the New Year.

Today, I want to talk about “Godly Grandparents.”

Sometimes, they are called Nana and Papa, sometimes Gramma and Grampa, sometimes Gram and Pap, or Noni and Popi, Oma and Opa, or Granny and Gramps.

These are those special people who are the parents of the parents.

And the grandparents of the grandkids.

We have a number of them in this room today. And many, many of the rest of us will be grandparents ourselves some day.

They are an important part of the family.

The Bible is full of grandparents. Think about all of the lists of who begat whom!

Next month, we’ll see scores of them in the Book of Numbers.

And there are precious pictures of happy grandparents in the Bible such as Gramma Naomi holding little baby Obed in her lap at the end of the Book of Ruth.

But strangely enough, there is very little instruction in the Bible on how to be a godly grandparent.

There are little hints here and there, but no major chapters on that topic.

Certainly, what we talked about two weeks ago with worthy widows would apply to many grandmas. And most of the biblical teaching on parenting would have application for grandparenting, as well.

But we have to piece together our practical theology of grandparenting from several biblical sources.

Today, our primary source is just a simple description of one Christian family in 2 Timothy chapter 1.

Paul is writing to Timothy from prison. And he is somewhat lonely and longs to see Timothy again. This is how he starts, look at verse 3.

“I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears [probably at their parting], I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. [What gets him by now? V.5] I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”


Now, anybody can become a grandparent. All you have to do is to have a baby and then your baby has a baby, and that makes you a grandparent.

But not everyone is a godly grandparent.

That’s different.

And I want to argue that the main difference between being just a grandparent and being a godly grandparent is that godly grandparents (to the extent that they are able) pass on a genuine faith.

Let’s read about Timothy’s family again. Verse 5.

“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

Notice the three generations and what they have in common: a genuine faith.

The word for “sincere” here in verse 5 means “real” or “genuine.” The real deal.

This is the real deal faith in Jesus Christ.

And Gramma Lois had it (as did Momma Eunice), and she passed it down to Timothy.

Godly grandparents pass on a genuine faith.

Does that sound good?

Now, let me try to give you some practical counsel on how to do that.

Remember, this is coming from someone who has only been a parent for a few years and never been a grandparent. But I’ve seen lots of good grandparenting and experienced a good bit of it on the receiving end myself.

Letter A. You Need to Have A Genuine Faith Yourself to Pass It On.

Notice that it says, “I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois...”

Lois had a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And it was sincere or genuine.

She had trusted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior.

She had believed the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus’ sin-bearing death and forgiveness-granting resurrection, and she had been saved.

She was the real deal.

And it takes the real deal to pass on the real deal.

Have you ever noticed that little kids can smell a fake a mile away?

If you want to have a godly influence on your grandkids, you can’t do it by faking it.

You have to be godly yourself.

You have to have a love relationship with God through Jesus Christ yourself. And that will begin your influence on your grandkids.

You will be modeling the Christian life for them. And a lot more is caught than taught.

Grandparents, do you know Jesus Christ as your own Lord and Savior?
Are you walking with Him by faith?
Are you growing in your relationship with Him?

That’s the first and most important thing.

George Burns used say that sincerity was the key to everything. If you can fake that, you can do anything.

But you can’t fake sincerity, can you?

Godly grandparents pass on a genuine faith, but they have to have one first to give it away.

If you have just been going through the motions, can I challenge you today to trust God for vibrant living faith that is the real deal?

If you don’t know Jesus as Lord and Savior, I encourage you now to submit your heart and trust your life to Him right now.

If you haven’t been growing, I challenge you to get serious about your relationship with Him. If not just for your own sake, for your grandkids.

Godly grandparents pass on a genuine faith, but they have to have one first to give it away.

Letter B: You Need to Give Your Grandkids the Best Gifts.

And I don’t mean the newest X-Box or Wii or GameCube.

I don’t mean piles of toys and clothes and money, at all.

Those are fine in moderation, but they are not the best gifts.

Here’s a list of some of the best gifts to give your grandkids:

Scripture, Time, Stories, Wisdom, and Prayer.

The best gifts are the kind of gifts that pass on a genuine faith.

How did Lois (and her daughter Eunice, who, by the way, was a spiritually single woman married to an unbeliever–which should give some of you hope of turning out a did Lois) pass on her genuine faith down to Tim?

Look over at chapter 3, verse 14. Paul is telling Timothy how to lead the church in Ephesus. He says, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it [he means himself, Eunice, and Gramma Lois], and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

It looks to me like Gramma Lois taught Timmy the Bible from when he was a little tike up.

That’s a great gift.

How can you give the Scriptures to your grandkids?

Some of you have a lot of time with your grandkids and they are in this room with you. Some of you don’t get to see them much at all.

What can you do to give the gift of the Scriptures to your grandkids?

And time. Invest your time in your grandkids. They need time to see how your genuine faith works itself out in your life.

And they need your love.

Give them those hugs and kisses that grandparents are famous for. I don’t care how old they are. Twenty year olds need grandparent hugs and kisses as much as 2 year olds do.

Give them your time.

And your stories.

When you’re together with them, tell them what it was like when you were a kid. Kids love stories. And they need stories.

They need to know about your life as it relates to their life.

They need a sense of personal history and rootedness. That’s a real gift to your grandkids, to let them know where they came from. It will help them to figure out where they are going.

Give them stories.

And your stories will probably have wisdom in them.

Hopefully, you have walked with the Lord for some time and you have gained some wisdom to share with your grandkids.

They won’t always want to hear it, but you should always want to give it.

Not necessarily in a lecture format. Tell a story. Share your history of how you learned a lesson and became wise. It might save them the same lesson!

I think of the godly old man who wrote Psalm 71. And the gift that he desired to give.

He said, “I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD; I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:16-18).

That’s the gift of wisdom–declaring God’s power to the next generation.

I know that I have profited greatly from the older men in our church family who have shared their wisdom with me–how God has worked in their lives.

I asked one of the grandpas in our church family yesterday what he would share if he was preaching this message today.

And he said that grandparenting is a chance to undo some of the mistakes made when parenting and pass along some of the wisdom that came with it.

And along with declaring God’s power to the next generation is praying for God’s power to affect the next generation.

Give your grandkids the best gift of prayer.

Pray for them.

Don’t stop. From the moment they are born until you die, have the name of your grandkids on your prayerful lips.

Many have been the children saved and grown to be Christ-following disciples because of the prayers of a godly grandparent.

This Christmas week, how about making a list and checking it twice, not of how many presents to put under little Timmy or Tina’s tree, but how you can give them the Scriptures, your time, your stories, your wisdom, and your prayers so that you pass on a genuine faith?

Letter C: You Need to Help Your Children Disciple Their Children.

The key word here is “help.”

Remember that the Bible gives the primary responsibility for discipline and instruction in the Lord into the hands of the parents. Ephesians chapter 6. We called it, The Family Dance.

Grandparents are called to help their children parent their children.

Whatever you can do to come alongside and help them is what you are supposed to do.

And that means, of course, not working around them or usurping their role with their children, or overruling them, or siding with the children over the parents or anything that doesn’t help the parents to do their job well.

I know that this is a difficult thing to navigate.

Especially when you don’t think your young son-in-law or daughter-in-law is doing a good job or you don’t understand how they are doing it–why they are doing what they are doing.

Now, I’m not saying to not give advice. I think that there is a time and a place for advice. Especially if you can do it in a loving, encouraging, helpful way!

But not in front of the kids. And not against their authority unless someone’s life is at stake.

Respect the parents and do what you can to help them disciple their kids. They are going to be held accountable for what they do with their kids. You are going to be held accountable for how you helped or didn’t help.

Sometimes, there is nothing you can do. When that happens, you just have to pray and trust.

But most of the time, there is plenty you can do to help them with that.

And I mean babysitting and everything else.

I don’t know what principles to share to really help you to grow in this area if it’s one of your weak spots, but I do recommend that you find someone who is good at it and “pick their brain” to find out what works.

I know that Heather and I have been very blessed as parents to have our parents come alongside us and work with us to disciple our children. They respect our wishes and follow our plans for them, because they know that we are responsible for our little ones the same way that they were responsible for us.

And they are always looking for ways to help us to disciple their grandkids.

I imagine Gramma Lois following Eunice’s lead in bringing up Timothy in the way that he should go. That’s probably part of how she passed on a genuine faith to Timothy.

And Letter D. You Need to Trust God with the Welfare of Your Grandkids.

I believe that a major temptation of grandparents is to worry.

To be anxious about their grandkids and what they are going to do with their lives.

Concern is good.
Prayers are better.

But worry is not.

God is faithful. And godly grandparents trust God with what He’s going to do with their grandkids.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests [about your grandkids] to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

God is faithful. Psalm 103 says, “From everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children [grandkids]–with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”

That doesn’t mean that all grandkids will come to faith and be saved if you will be faithful.

But it does mean to trust God with your grandkids because He is faithful.

“Cast all your anxiety [about your grandkids] on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Godly grandparents pass on a genuine faith–a trusting faith.

How are you doing in this area? Is there one of your grandkids that you need to not only pray for, but trust God with?

Your worry can’t add a second to their lives or make them a better person.

Put them in God’s hands. He can handle it.

Godly grandparents pass on a genuine faith.

It’s not automatic. You can’t force it.

But you can be the real deal yourself.
You can give them the best gifts: scripture, time, stories, wisdom, and prayer.
You can work with (and not against) their parents to disciple them.
And you can trust God them with your grandkids.

And God, in his grace, will often birth a genuine faith in them, as well.

So that you can say, “I am persuaded it now lives in you also.”

What a joy!


God commands us to honor our fathers and mothers.

And that command certainly extends to our grandfathers and our grandmothers.

And when our grandparents are godly grandparents we have all the more reason to give them genuine honor.

What can you do today to show honor to your grandparents?

Next Tuesday, my brother and I are going to drive down to the Columbus area to visit my Mom’s parents. I hope to honor them with my presence and attention and prayers.

What can you do today or this Christmas season to honor your grandparents? Their memory if they have already died. Or their person if they are living?

Godly Grandparents Pass On a Genuine Faith
And they are worthy of Genuine Honor.

Can I ask all of the grandparents that are here among us to stand?

Let’s show them our appreciation.

And let’s pray for them and for us.