Sincerity

1 Corinthians 5.8 “Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with theunleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (See also Joshua 24.14; Tobit 8.7; Wisdom of Solomon 1.1; 2 Corinthians 1.12 Corinthians 2.17)

Our life as disciples needs to exhibit sincerity. But, as I have considered this word, I have realized that, perhaps, I at least have misunderstood it. Quite often, I have confused sincerity with intense emotional content accompanied by dramatic action in contrast with an attribute that is simple, quiet, and yet very powerful.

Sincerity is, simply put, being clear and honest. Notice that in the passage above the word “truth” accompanies the word “sincerity.” Sincerity is not about convincing the other person through muscling tactics such as intense emotion or dramatic action or needless repetition. What is more, the person receiving the expression of sincerity has, quite often, been taught to expect emotion, drama, and repetition as the criteria of sincerity. To make the whole matter more complex, we have been taught to even suspect, on occasions, that when an expression is attended by too much drama, emotion, and repetition it is probably insincere. We suspect that the person is not being sincere and therefore not telling the truth! Once again note the linkage in the passage above between sincerity and truth. This makes for very confusing and ambiguous circumstances and way of life.

Sincerity may be attended by a certain amount of emotion, drama, and repetition. There is no reason why it shouldn’t. However, this is not necessarily the case. Rather, I would like to put forward the conviction that sincerity is an expression of truth that is clear, simple, clean, regular, consistent, and direct (not aggressive). Note that I am not equating sincerity with certainty. Sincerity issues from faith and faithfulness (fidelity) not certainty. Sincerity offers hope by way of its gentle power not necessarily guarantees. It offers by the “follow-through” that accompanies it, a way forward. Sincerity offers love that sets the recipient free to respond to clear parameters that offer life as contrasted with vague parameters that manipulate or offer no clear way forward.

The spirit of sincerity finds its home in the heart, where the “Ruach Adonai” (breath of God) dwells, and issues forth from there integrating different aspects of our inner life – thoughts, motives, identity, character – to give life to others through our words and deeds. “The spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” (Job 33.4)

Fr. Thomas

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