Whether or not she meant to, Mom passed on her sweet tooth to me, and now we know beyond any doubt that if one of us mentions ice cream, the other one is going to go grab the spoons. And we have inadvertently passed this down to my daughter, who, if you are eating ice cream, will pretend like she wants to cuddle with you, but beware—she does not care a thing about you. She’s stealing your ice cream. She’s a sinner. An adorable, sugar-crazed sinner.
And we’re all sugar-crazed sinners I suppose, in desperate need of ice cream but infinitely desperate for God. In my experience, the fastest way to realize that you need God is to become a mother. (It’s also the fastest way to realize you need ice cream.)
When I first became a mom, I was taken aback by how intense my love was for my daughter. It was overwhelming, smothering. I had never been entrusted with anything so precious in my whole life. Then we added my too-cute-for-his-own-good son, and my brain just about exploded.
I was reading in 2 Timothy, as well as one with a nearly-exploded brain can, and one phrase in particular resonated with me: “sincere faith.” Paul writes to Timothy, “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 1:5).
The legacy of faith passed down from Lois to Eunice to Timothy was so significant that it laid the foundation for Timothy to become as close as a son to one of the most influential Jesus followers of all time: the Apostle Paul. Paul affectionately entrusted Timothy with wisdom that is still precious to the modern church. I imagine that Lois had no idea the kind of return her investment in Eunice would eventually bring. Isn’t it incredible what a legacy of sincere faith can do?
I want this, too. I want this, more than ice cream, more than anything: a sincere faith to pass on to my daughter and son.
Sincere means heartfelt, wholehearted, totally genuine. Timothy is not faking it—his faith is real. Lois and Eunice weren’t faking their faith either, and that’s what made it legacy-worthy. It’s hard to pass down fake stuff. Fake wood furniture doesn’t hold up, and neither does fake faith. Nobody cares to inherit fake diamonds, but grandkids will certainly argue over who gets grandmother’s real diamonds.
Sincere faith has less to do with perfect church attendance and unfailing smiles and Instagram accounts full of Bible verses. Like my mom said the other day, sincere faith isn’t about your resume. Like a dear friend often reminds me, the richest parts of your spiritual life should occur in private, not in public. Sincere faith is not born in perfectionism or in public but forged in quiet, unseen places.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-6
I’m going to tell you something you already know: God values faith practiced in unseen ways. It means that we’re doing those good things—studying the Bible, praying, giving, etc.—because we’re interested in His glory, not our own. The quiet places are where sincere faith is fanned into flame. The quiet places hold more power, more reward than we think.
The kicker is that even though we know all this—and likely have known this for years—sometimes we don’t want to. That’s the ridiculousness of the human condition. We don’t want to do what’s good for us. Salad is good for us and mozzarella sticks are not, but more often than not, I’m going with the mozzarella sticks.
But for my kids? I’d do anything. I’ve always done anything. Sacrificed my body during pregnancy and delivery and while nursing, sacrificed my sleep during bouts of teething and sickness and general newborn-ness, sacrificed my plans for the day to give them what they need—and you have, too. You’re a good mom.
But moms, what if what they need the most is not nutritious meals or playdates or education or shoes that fit? What is what they need the most is for us to love Jesus with a whole-hearted, sincere faith? Would we guard the quiet places more fiercely? Would we find ways to secretly honor God when the literal “quiet” evades us? Would we give more generously, pray more fervently, study more diligently, look less for applause? Would we fight daily to understand the significance of the Gospel and its implications on our lives?
Yes, yes we would. Because our job has always been to protect them, and faith that is not legacy-worthy is a threat.
Unfortunately, the human condition guarantees that we’ll inevitably find ourselves lacking the discipline and desire to seek after God wholeheartedly. But when we are caught in mozzarella sticks faith, may our children’s faces give us fresh resolve. May God use our love for them as a catalyst to draw us back to him! May we give ourselves wholly to God and in so doing, protect our children, as best we can, from the dangers of insincere faith.