Feigned or sincere faith?


Showing his ministerial and paternal affection towards his disciple (2 Timothy 1:3-5) the apostle Paul had impressed in his memories the tears of Timothy, who was the addressee of his day and night prayers. Paul’s talking is motivated by the same faith of Timothy, defined an “unfeigned faith”. Some versions translate “sincere” that means not hypocrite; in fact the latin phrase “sine cera” it means “without a mask”. This expression recalls the kind of faith of those that the Gospel defines hypocrites, that is the Pharisees. They used to show their religiousness, with an attitude that was intended to receive the praise of those around them, and they were impressed by their devotion who was instead just appearance.


Referring to the faith of his disciple he recognizes the same faith that was in his mother Lois and grandmother Eunice. There’s a faith can be transferred from parents to children, that is no the “label faith” who someone confines to the infant baptism where the parents’ faith is transferred to the baby by sprinkling water. Timothy’s faith is visible and it’s the same of his mother and grandmother. For a real and lived spirituality is able to influence those around, and in a sense it can be transferred. It also helps  to a better understanding of the invitation of the Philippian jailer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Atti 16:31).


How do you tell if a faith is feigned or sincere? If is it genuine or hypocrite? First of all a sincere faith does not speak, does not raise its voice: “He will not cry out, nor raise his voice, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street” (Isaiah 42:2). It doesn't shout but acts! It does not boast but it touches in the deep and secret. It is also sincere the faith that urges to take part into the church life not in order to praise the pastor. Those who base their faith on a man, who one day shall be no more, they will be anywhere but not in church, because they lived a religiosity as sympathy for the servant, so it was  pretended, feigned. When he passes away, everything they believed falls down: there was not a sincere faith on the Lord, rooted in the Scriptures. A hypocrite faith not only falters when the servant dies, but in the smallest trial it will ready to accuse the Lord: “Where are you? Why are you not answering me? I have faith in you, I go to church, You have to do something!”. This attitude will be very close to that of the pharisee in the temple, while he was praying he listed all he did for the Lord, so trying to persuade God.


The faith in God is not an acting, appearing while dressing shoes of others, but it is expression of a life to be lived in his wholeness. He is always with us even when we turn our thoughts to God or when we dedicate ourselves to personal matters. When we think to Him we turn our attention to Him, but when we’re busy with our things He watches over us. If God watches our life also when we pronounce some words, the same is for those around us, who could recognize a sincere faith, without hypocrisy, unfeigned faith as the apostle Paul with Timothy. I don’t think a hypocrite faith is able to see miracles every day, so assuring health and wellness on a daily basis. Who thinks that this is the unfeigned faith, in the right moment he will be facing adverse situations he will have two chances: to declare he doesn’t have faith or suppose God doesn’t exist. A sincere faith doesn’t measure God existence according to what we have or not, but it looks beyond, raising the sight on things above where no thief comes near and no moth and rust destroys.


Although the faith is a gift, to keep it alive and real it requires care on our part. Making statement of faith it does not mean signing a contract that controls our spiritual life forever, giving us an exclusive right to receive only from above. In the same letter the apostle Paul encourages Timothy: “I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you” (2 Timothy 1:6). Faith is like a plant that needs care, it’s a gift that needs to be stirred up, but it’s not up to the Lord to do it, rather it is our duty. We should not ask God what it’s up to us. Paul says to stir up the gift God has given us, that is His grace, His calling to the service. He has given talents to those who are saved and His disciples, but it’s our responsibility to let them prosper and grow. In fact a living faith will see and touch a living God, instead a dead faith will have a dead God. A living faith moves, it can’t be cold and dead! We cannot preach others to seek God, while we do not believe God can solve our problems. Our faith must be real, what’s whitin us must be what comes out. If we feel our faith is going to quit, the only remedy is to stir it up. How? Praying, meditating and acting, that is to put into practice and test the Lord.


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