3. (a) Under what circumstances did Timothy become a Christian, and how did he respond to Christian teachings? (b) Paul admonished Timothy about what three aspects of learning?
3 It was likely in 47 C.E., during the apostle Paul’s first visit to Lystra, that Timothy was introduced to Christianity. Though at the time Timothy was likely a teenager, he must have applied himself well. Two years later he became Paul’s traveling companion. Some 16 years after that, Paul wrote to Timothy: “Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from whom you learned them and that from infancy you have known the holy writings [the Hebrew Scriptures], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 3:14, 15) Note that Paul mentions (1) knowing the holy writings, (2) being persuaded to believe the things learned, and (3) becoming wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
“PERSUADED TO BELIEVE”
5. (a) What does “persuaded to believe” mean? (b) How do we know that Timothy was persuaded to believe the good news about Jesus?
5 Knowledge of the holy writings is important. However, more is involved in imparting spiritual education to children than simply teaching them about the people and events of the Bible. Timothy was also “persuaded to believe.” In the original language, that phrase means “to be assured of” or “to be convinced and certain of the truth of something.” Timothy knew the Hebrew Scriptures from infancy. But at some point he was convinced by compelling evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. Put another way, his knowledge was reinforced with conviction. In fact, Timothy’s conviction about the good news was so strong that he became a baptized disciple and joined Paul in the missionary work.
6. How can you help your children to be persuaded to believe what they learn from God’s Word?
6 How can you help build conviction in your children so that they are persuaded to believe, as Timothy was? First, be patient. Conviction does not come about overnight; nor does it pass from you to your offspring simply because you have been persuaded to believe. Each child needs to use his or her own “power of reason” to develop conviction about Bible truth. (Read Romans 12:1.) You as a parent play an important role in that process, especially when your child asks questions. Consider an example.
7, 8. (a) How does one Christian father show patience in teaching his daughter? (b) How have you found the need for similar patience?
7 Thomas, the father of an 11-year-old girl, relates: “My daughter might ask, ‛Could Jehovah have used evolution to develop life on earth?’ or, ‛Why don’t we get involved in the community—with elections, for example—to try to improve things?’ Sometimes I have to bite my tongue so as not to give a dogmatic answer. After all, conviction isn’t the result of one large chunk of truth. It comes from many small pieces of evidence.”
8 As Thomas knows, teaching takes patience. Actually, patience is important for all Christians. (Col. 3:12) Thomas realizes that there may be a need for many discussions over a period of time. He needs to reason on the Scriptures so that his daughter develops conviction about what she learns. “Especially on important points,” says Thomas, “my wife and I want to know if our daughter really believes what she is learning and if it makes sense to her. If she has questions, that’s good. Frankly, I would worry if she accepted something without asking questions.”
9. How can you inculcate God’s Word in your children?
9 With patient teaching from their parents, children will be able gradually to begin to grasp “the breadth and length and height and depth” of faith. (Eph. 3:18) We can look for what is appropriate to their age and ability. As they become convinced of what they learn, they will increasingly be able to defend their beliefs before others, including schoolmates. (1 Pet. 3:15) For example, can your children explain from the Bible what happens at death? Does the Bible’s explanation make sense to them?* Yes, inculcating God’s Word in your child will require patience, but it is worth the effort.—Deut. 6:6, 7.
10. What should be an important part of your teaching?
10 Of course, your example is also important when it comes to building conviction. Stephanie, the mother of three daughters, says: “Ever since my children were very young, I have had to ask myself, ‘Do I talk to my children about why I am convinced of Jehovah’s existence, his love, and the rightness of his ways? Can my children clearly see that I really love Jehovah?’ I can’t expect my children to be persuaded unless I am.”