A Mother’s Day Devotion: Reflections From a Farewell Letter

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Text: 2 Timothy 1:1-7

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” (Proverbs 31:28 ESV)

Imagine that you knew your life would end in the next couple of months, and you were writing a farewell letter to your loved ones. What do you think you might say?

That’s the position Paul finds himself in as he pens his last epistle to Timothy, his beloved son in the faith and loyal companion in ministry. As Paul faces death, contemplates the end of his ministry, and wrestles with abandonment by many of his friends, what imagery comes to mind? What are his last impressions of life?

It was the beautifully redemptive picture of motherhood.

In a dark and destitute prison cell, Paul’s heart is warmed by the memories of Timothy’s affectionate spirit and his sincere faith—a faith that was instilled in him by two godly women, his grandmother, Lois, and his mother, Eunice. These two women of virtue were spiritual pillars in Timothy’s life. They grounded him in his service for the Lord—a service that refreshed Paul time and time again.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 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 1:3-5 ESV)

Paul encouraged Timothy to “guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:14). A godly heritage is a wonderful gift to be treasured. It isn’t to be lightly esteemed or taken for granted. Lois and Eunice gave the world an infectious servant-leader in their rearing of Timothy, a homegrown disciple. They didn’t outsource Timothy’s discipleship; they took ownership of his spiritual cultivation.

In essence Paul said: “Timothy, I know your grandmother, and her faith is authentic. I know your mother, and her faith is the real deal, and after watching you all this time I am convinced of the sincerity of your faith also.” To describe that faith, Paul used a word, which literally means, “without hypocrisy.” In word and deed, Lois and Eunice showed Timothy what it looks like to flesh out a living faith.

Washington Irving, writing about mothers, said: “A father may turn his back on his child; brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies; husbands may desert their wives and wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all; in good repute, in bad repute, in the face of the world’s condemnation, a mother still loves on, and still hopes that her child may turn from his evil ways, and repent; still she remembers the infant smiles that once filled her bosom with rapture, the merry laugh, the joyful shout of … childhood, the opening promise of youth; and she can never be brought to think (her child) all unworthy.”

It’s been said that when a man succeeds, he does so by climbing a ladder steadied by a woman who believes in him. It seems that as Paul counts down his final days on this earth, the imagery of godly motherhood is what comforts his soul—at least in regards to his beloved mentee. He reminds Timothy that he has been given a steady ladder that will guarantee his success—the sincere faith transmitted to him by a nurturing mother and a devout grandmother.

On this Mother’s Day, may we take time to honor those women who have nurtured our lives and held steady the ladder of our success. Who believed in you when others didn’t? Who stuck with you when others gave up on you? Who has come the closest to modeling the similitude of God’s unconditional love for you? More than likely this is a she. Take some time to thank her as you abide in His grace this week.


Heavenly Father, we thank you for a mother’s love. We thank you for the women in our lives who have nurtured us and provided a godly heritage. We treasure that enduring legacy. We also pray for the less fortunate—those who have been orphaned or abandoned by their earthly mothers. May you grant them the sanctuary of surrogate motherhood, and set the lonely in families of refuge, as only you can do. We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:

  1. What are some of the fondest memories you have of your mother? Or, who has been a mother-like figure in your life?
  2. Sitting in a prison cell awaiting his execution, why do you think the imagery of motherhood was so vivid for Paul?
  3. In what ways do mothers reveal much about God’s unconditional love for us?
  4. Who in your life has given you a spiritual foundation or nurtured you in Christ? How can you honor them this week?
  5. Lois and Eunice didn’t outsource young Timothy’s discipleship; they owned it by becoming the primary disciplers in his life. What does this mean for your family and what should this look like in your household? In what ways are you the primary discipler of your kids?

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