Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Sincerity, Honesty, Transparancy

  Character Traits of the Spiritual Life:

Sincerity, Honesty, Transparency

 

Richard Hollerman

One of the traits that even unbelievers appreciate and admire is that of sincerity and honesty. People want friends who will respond in sincerity and will manifest a transparent attitude. Without this positive quality, people will be afraid to get too close to you. They will question whether you can be depended on.

One of the common words translated “sincerity” is anypokrites, meaning “without hypocrisy.”  Hypokrisis denotes “play-acting” and hence “pretence, hypocrisy.”  A hypocrite (hupokrites) is “a stage-actor.”[i]  Therefore, a sincere person is one who is not a “play actor,” one who is pure in his motives and actions.  It has been said that “sincerity is being as genuine on the inside as we appear to be on the outside.”[ii]  The English definition reflects the general idea of the Greek.  Sincere is “free of deceit, hypocrisy, or falseness. . . . genuine; real. . . . pure; unmixed.”[iii]

James said that the “wisdom from above” is “without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).  Again and again, Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13, 15, 23, 25, 27).  They professed one thing but they lived another.  Their external was lawful and righteous, but their internal life was hypocritical. 

Notice Christ’s words: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.  So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28; cf. vv. 25-26).  He said, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).  He said this because they were “lovers of money” (v. 15). 

Yes, God hates hypocrisy and pretending to be right before Him.  The righteous God requires sincerity—a thorough openness and honesty before Him and others.  When we wear a facade so that others think we are righteous when we hide a heart of greed, lust, bitterness, and hatred, we are hypocrites.  God want us to renounce religious “play acting” and be genuine, honest, and sincere before others and especially before Him.

God values sincerity and He hates hypocrisy.  Sincerity “indicates that a person acts or speaks out of genuine motives, without deceit or wavering.”[iv]  Paul says that his “goal” in writing was love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).  Faith must not be external or feigned; it must be true and sincere. 

Paul wrote, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).  Timothy’s was a family of sincerity.  He also wrote that “love” must be “without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9).  We must not pretend to love but must have sincere love, a “genuine” love (2 Corinthians 6:6), a “sincere love of the brethren” (1 Peter 1:22).

Perhaps it would be good to ask ourselves the following questions to determine whether we really are sincere in our heart: (1) Are you the same on the outside as you are on the inside? (2) Do you hide secret sins from the light of Christ?  (3) Do you judge others for things that you are guilty of? (4) Do you obey outwardly, yet inwardly resist instruction? (5) Do you seek the Lord with your whole heart?

(6) Do you do good deeds for the praise of men or the glory of God? (7) Do you try to copy the achievements of others without their character?[v]  Let us give our hearts to the Lord and make sure that they are sincere and open before the Lord.  “The eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Honestly ask yourself: Am I a sincere and honest person? Would God consider me sincere and honest?

 



[i] W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary.

[ii] The Power of True Success, p. 166.

[iii] Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.

[iv] Richards, Expository Dictionary.

[v] The Power of True Success, p. 168.

 

 

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