Tag Archives: sincerity

Sincerity

A few blog posts back, I wrote about Discipling our Children. I mentioned four characteristics that I think are missing from modern Christianity. Although maybe it’s not just our “progressive society” at fault; perhaps there have always been a majority of lukewarm Christians. It would be kind of hard to tell by looking at historical documents, however, since mediocre believers generally don’t make as big of a splash or leave a legacy behind them. The world-changers are those who are sincere in their faith and willing to do whatever it takes to help the disadvantaged or reach the lost.

The four characteristics I mentioned were:

1. Sincerity

2. Obedience

3. Discipline

4. Compassion

So today I want to address sincerity. What is sincerity? According to Merriam-Webster.com, sincerity is “the quality or state of being sincere: honesty of mind: freedom from hypocrisy”. And the word sincere means “having or showing true feelings that are expressed in an honest way: genuine or real: not false, fake, or pretended”.

You might ask, what is honesty of mind? I think that means that you are honest with yourself. You aren’t trying to rationalize or make yourself feel a certain way in spite of what you believe is right. In other words, you aren’t trying to get by with behaving a certain way, all the while soothing your own conscience in order to sleep at night.

Freedom from hypocrisy, what does that mean? I really like this definition. It means we don’t believe or speak one way and act another. In other words, if you go around preaching tolerance, but cannot tolerate the intolerant, you are being a hypocrite. Either you don’t really believe what you are preaching in the first place, or you are offending your own conscience every time you fail to live up to your own standards. (This is not an argument supporting the whole tolerance movement, by the way. Rather, it is an argument against it. There are obviously some things we should not tolerate, but that is an issue for another post.)

How else can we apply sincerity to our own lives? Where do we find a lack of sincerity in the Christian realm?

Are we sincere in our belief? Do we really believe there is a Creator out there that loves us, watches out for us, gives us what we need, and provides a way of salvation? The first, immediate response would be, of course! We’re Christians, aren’t we? But then, if we truly believe that He has our best interests in mind, why do we have so much trouble obeying? Why do we think that our situation is the exception to the rule? Well, I know I’m not supposed to gossip, but… Or, I know I’m not supposed to watch this or go here or do that, but I really want to. It can’t hurt me that much…

I propose that the more obedient we are, the happier we will be. The more rebellious we are, the more miserable we will become over time. The most miserable people I know are those who have made a habit out of making poor choices. They make those choices because they just want to experience a moment of fun or laziness or danger. But one minute of sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, violence, driving recklessly, quitting a job, or yes, even gossip, can be life-changing. Think about the saddest person you know. How did they get that way?

Are we sincere in our trust? We say we trust Him with our eternity, but why do we fear death if that’s true? And if you can trust Him with forever, why can’t you trust Him right this very minute? Trust Him with your job situation or your relationship that’s falling apart. Trust Him with your health and your finances, all the while acting in obedience to His will. If you truly trust Him, you will find that you have no fear. You won’t fear people, situations, or the future.

What kind of Christian are you? Are you sincere? There is one way to tell:

Ye shall know them by their fruits.    ~ Matthew 7:16

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Discipling our Children

Bible ReadingWe need a mature mindset when it comes to disciplining ourselves and the little people we are responsible for (our children). Somehow, we find no problems saying, Yes, you HAVE to eat your vegetables, you HAVE to brush your teeth, you HAVE to share, HAVE to apologize. These things are non-negotiable. We parents realize that we are responsible for our children’s health and attitudes in their youth, with the goal of cultivating life-long responsibility in our kids. Why is it then, that we have such difficulty in helping our children develop habits such as daily Bible-reading, prayer, worship, and thankfulness? What about teaching them to discipline themselves through occasional but regular periods of fasting, even if it’s only for one meal? What about charitable giving? Volunteering? Reaching out to others? Shouldn’t we make these things a regular part of their lives so that they will have some clue as to how to function as real Christians?

What do I mean by real Christians? The word Christian is an old one, and originally it meant “little Christs.” It may have even been a derogatory term when it was used by the citizens of Antioch to label followers of Christ. I’d like to think that Christians earned this term because of their adherence to a lifestyle that mimicked Christ’s. Therefore, I maintain that Christianity should be more than just a belief. More than just an acceptance of the Gospel. True, our works don’t get us into heaven, and the definition of the word “Christian” has changed over time, but our belief and acceptance should be made obvious by the changes that salvation works in us.

You might argue that your children haven’t personally accepted Christ yet, and that’s okay, I get that. But the goal is to direct them to seek out the true God and develop a relationship with Him. There’s nothing wrong with running your household in a way that presupposes their eventual acceptance. Even if your children never accept Him and grow up thinking you’re a crazy fanatic, there’s certainly nothing wrong with teaching them to love people and sincerely seek the truth.

Even for parents who have no qualms with “pushing” their religion onto their kids, many still fail to instill Christian discipline in their offspring. I think one of the main reasons is this: we refuse to discipline ourselves and therefore feel like hypocrites when we require them to read their Bibles, etc. If we demand that our kids return the candy bar they stole, yet we ourselves cheat on our taxes, what does that say about us? How can we pass on traits such as sharing, self-discipline, fasting, etc. if we can’t be bothered with these things in our own lives? Well, I only have one answer for that – seek discipline in your own life and set the example. But being an example isn’t enough; we need to help our kids practice for a lifetime of Christianity.

None of us are perfect, and we’re going to fail – a lot – but that doesn’t excuse us from trying our best. You expect a good effort from your kids on all sorts of things – keeping their rooms clean, obedience, education. Expect the best from yourself while you’re at it.

Anyway, rant over.

Here are a few things I find lacking in Christian society today:

1. Sincerity

2. Discipline

3. Obedience

4. Compassion

I have a few thoughts about each, but I will save them for another post.

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