Lois, Eunice, Timothy & the Grameen Bank: A Mother’s Day Story
The Grameen Bank was founded in Bangladesh by Dr. Muhammed Yunus in 1976. The project eventually flourished and unleashed a movement of micro-lending and other economic development initiatives. In 2006 both the bank and its founder were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. However, things were not always smooth and successful.
One of the first difficult lessons learned came when a high percentage of those who received loans took the money and never showed up again. However, they quickly noticed that almost every one of those individuals was male. So, they changed their policy so that nine out of ten of their loans had to go females with at least one dependent child at home. It worked, and today the Grameen Bank has one of the best loan repayment percentages of any bank in the world.
The change in policy was effective because there is a near-universal truth about mothers. That is, they will nearly always work hard to do what is best for their family as a whole, and not necessarily what is only best for them individually. While some of the men were running off to spend their money on personal pursuits, the mothers were investing their money in a way that would help change the socio-economic trajectory of their children.
Spiritually speaking mothers are no different. When a believing mother understands the truth of the Gospel she will do what she can to transmit her faith into the hearts of her children, knowing that only faith in Christ can truly change the eternal trajectory of her children.
There are many stories about mothers in Scripture, but perhaps none illustrate the power of mothers to pass on their faith to their progeny more than the story of Timothy. We know that Timothy’s mother was seemingly instrumental in the development of his faith, and that Timothy’s grandmother was possibly instrumental in the development of his mother’s faith. Paul noted in his letter to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Tim 1:5).
It was not merely belief that was passed along, but a sincere faith. This is not a faith that can simply be mirrored or acted out. It has to be authentic in the life of both the one who is transmitting the faith and the one to whom it is being transmitted. The Greek word that Paul uses means more than just the English idea of sincerity. It literally means unhypocritical. The fathers involved in the first loans of the Grameen Bank turned out to be hypocrites. They acted like they wanted what was best for their family. However, their actions proved that they really wanted convenience for themselves.
To be a hypocrite is to pretend you are one way when you are actually another. Lois, Eunice, and Timothy possessed a faith that had proven to completely authentic, according to Paul. This was in great contrast to the pretenders, of whom Paul said, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim 3:13).
Another thing that Lois and Eunice passed along to Timothy was a knowledge of the Word of God. That is why Paul contrasted Timothy, Lois, and Eunice with the pretenders by saying, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:14-15).
This probably does not surprise very many of us. Many of us had mothers or have witnessed mothers working hard to instill the great stories of Scripture in the imaginations of their children at a very young age. Walk into any children’s Sunday School class across the country and you will more than likely encounter a mother or grandmother or some other committed lady with spiritual, maternal instincts volunteering her time to pass along the sincere faith to the children in the room. Yes, you will find the exceptions when such moments are led by spiritual fathers. But even so, most of us would probably agree that there is something special and deeply authentic about the faith that gets passed along by godly mothers. That is why today we honor them.
So, here’s to all our mothers today–biological, spiritual, and otherwise. May they feel as honored by us as we feel blessed by them. Happy Mother’s Day!