When encouraging Timothy to wage war on gospel negligence, Paul launched his arguments from one point—the reality of sincere faith.
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. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Tim. 1:3–7)
By “sincere faith,” Paul means genuine faith, real faith. Here are 10 qualities lifted from Paul’s words that describe this kind of faith.
Sincere Faith is Divine
First, Paul says, “I thank God” (1:3). This is because sincere faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8). It is divine, not of human origin. Although we can express a level of faith, spiritual faith comes from God.
Sincere Faith is Worshipful
Second, Paul qualifies God as the one “whom I serve” (1:3). This the idea of worshipful obedience. He was fulfilling the ministry that God required of him. So was Timothy. And, so Paul makes the connection of sincere faith as being full of worship.
Sincere Faith is Shared
Third, Paul notes that he serves God “as did my ancestors” (1:3) which will later connect to Timothy, who also serves God as did his ancestors (1:5). In this, Paul is underscoring their common faith—a faith that was passed down and shared with others.
Sincere Faith is Satisfying
Fourth, Paul served God “with a clear conscience” (1:3). All people deal with the heaviness of guilt and regret until they experience the reconciliation that comes only through Jesus Christ. Sincere faith grants that peace and satisfies the soul.
Sincere Faith is Loving
Fifth, despite Paul’s horrible circumstances—being imprisoned in a Roman dungeon awaiting execution—he is still mindful of the well-being of others. He thanks God, “as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day” (1:3). Sincere faith puts the well-being of others before its own.
Sincere Faith is Sympathetic
Sixth, an extension of love is sympathy. Paul says, “As I remember your tears” (1:4). Paul is likely referring to the sorrow Timothy felt at their departure. Sincere faith tenderizes our hearts so that we feel with those who mourn.
Sincere Faith is Unifying
Seventh, Paul made to quips about it, “I long to see you” (1:4). Those who suffer for the faith together have their hearts knitted in a way that is unbreakable. Timothy longed to see Paul and Paul longed to see Timothy.
Sincere Faith is Joyful
Eighth, Paul’s intention to see Timothy was “that I may be filled with joy” (1:4). Paul was like John, as many of us experience as well, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 Jn. 1:4). Sincere faith brings and desires joy.
Sincere Faith is Evident
Nine, Paul’s argument for spiritual power begins with the evidence of sincere faith. “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” (1:5). Faith that comes from God is never hidden.
Sincere Faith is Powerful
Finally, the consequence of sincere faith is spiritual “power and love and self-control” (1:7). It is the reason why Paul can be so bold to tell Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” and fight the good fight of faith. Since faith is equips us for a life of godliness and gospel-centered living. It is powerful because it is from God and worked by the Spirit of God who “dwells within us” (1:14). God is powerful. Therefore, God’s gift is powerful.
If these qualities characterize your faith, then you are equipped to fight the good fight of faith. So wage war on gospel negligence and make Christ the most important thing in your life. You will surely win.