The Imitation of Spirituality

“How can your empty cliches comfort me? All your explanations are lies!” (Job 21:34 NLT)

Have you ever met someone who had an air of spirituality that you soon realized was a mile wide and an inch deep? Job, in the above verse, quickly found that the “counsel” of his “friends” was clearly not helping, it was actually causing him more stress and anguish. Their attempts at pious or spiritually empowered answers to Job’s questions were like the proverbial “leech” sucking Job’s life out of him.

It took me a while, but I eventually learned that truly pious, godly people have a few things in common. Their spirituality is inviting, warm, caring, loving, and real, and it is marked by genuine humility, it’s never artificial. Others have what C. H. Spurgeon characterized as “imitation spirituality.” What’s that? It’s an effort on the part of those who are either trying to “fake it ‘til they make it,” or they’re simply counterfeits seeking to fool others into believing something about themselves that isn’t true. Which, in this case is, they’re not Jesus followers, but they want people to think they are.

Photo by Amina Filkins on

Why would anyone do that? Why would anyone ever seek to be something or someone they’re not? It’s called a “scam.” It’s a person who is a “con-artist,” someone who is pretending to be something they’re not for personal gain. What would a person hope to gain through imitating someone who is “spiritual?”

Genuine believers tend to be accepting, willing to help, generous, and sometimes a bit gullible. So, if someone thinks they can take advantage of someone’s gullibility or kindness, either for financial gain or sometimes simply for higher standing within the church community, they’ll use others for their own benefit. I’ve seen churches divided and destroyed by people pretending to be something they’re not. I’ve also seen people make their living by preying on churches and good-hearted people.

I pastored a small congregation that was in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic community. And while I loved the diversity, I learned that not everyone there was coming to the church for spiritual purposes. Many came only for what the church/church people could do for them.

There was a very good and kind young man who worked hard to find housing and jobs for the many homeless people who would come to us. He would be so hopeful when he was able to place someone in a job and/or find them housing, only to learn that as soon as they had some money, they used it to fund their habit, not their housing. It took it’s toll on this young man and, I must say, on me.

Why would I even write an article like this? Because, unfortunately, there are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” the enemy uses to attack and, if possible, destroy a believer’s weak faith in Jesus. They even tear churches apart and seek in every way possible to cripple or hurt the mission of churches in which they can get a foothold. Satan is no respecter of persons, and he doesn’t discriminate when it comes to lives he can destroy.

One way I’ve learned to recognize these people is to watch them when they “win.” What does that mean? When what they’re promoting or advocating gains attention or acceptance. C. H. Spurgeon said: “In the midst of our triumphs, let us cry to God for humility.” Which is a godly person’s response.

The people who are closest to the Lord won’t gloat or seek to draw attention to themselves. They won’t be the ones seeking to point praise to themselves, rather they will be the ones pointing to Jesus and seeking to advance His holy purposes, giving Him all the credit for the good that is happening in the church or in their personal lives.

Just be cautious and use good judgment. Seek the wisdom of God in discerning a person’s motives if there’s even a hint of impropriety. The Holy Spirit will guide you and guard your heart and enable you to make right judgments. Trust Him.

Blessings, Ed 😊

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: