Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The power of sincerity ...

What you reap in this life, and what your eternal destiny will be, will eventually be narrowed to a critical factor: What you believe sincerely.

Thus, the power of sincerity.

Sincerity is the truth that lies below our statements and professions of beliefs, and rests in our hearts and minds; it fosters our true desires and generates motivation for how we live, for what is important to us, and what we pursue. It is the basic truth about us, something we may at times try to camouflage from others, but can never be hidden from God.

"For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all," Luke 8:17.

Raymond McHenry tells the story of how, in ancient Rome, sculpting was a popular profession ...

"The culture flourished with statues, as nearly every public and private building had numerous gods represented. The market was flooded with sculptors, so quality was sometimes lacking. Less qualified craftsmen would cover their errors with wax, and frequently the customer could not see the flaw. To compensate for this practice, authentic sculptors would mark their statues with the words sine cera --- 'without wax'. Today we frequently use the same term to close letters: 'Sincerely.' As Christians we are called to live authentic lives ..."

Jesus leveled some of His harshest criticism toward those whose claims of faith in God was insincere ...

"What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy --- full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too," Matthew 23:25-26.

The "teachers of religious law" and the Pharisees believed sincerely, but in the wrong thing. R. Scott Richards writes about how harmful misplaced sincerity can be ...

"Truth matters. We can sincerely believe that human flight is possible by jumping out of a three-story window and flapping our arms, but our sincerity doesn't make the sidewalk any softer."

In his book, "Myths the World Taught Me," Richards goes on to describe a deadly example of misplaced sincerity ...

"In November of 1987, fooled by the wiles of a witch doctor, Alice Lakwena, a mob of some 700 anti-government rebels attempted to overtake a Ugandan army post and airstrip. The attackers were armed with little more than their passion, and were bare-chested and covered in oil. Calling themselves the 'Holy Spirit Movement,' they marched into a hail storm of bullets fired by the defending government forces. When all was said and done, some 200 rebels were dead and most of the rest were taken prisoner. The witch doctor had convinced them the oil they had smeared on their bodies was a magical concoction that would protect them from bullets. The battle was lost before it had begun. No one could fault the 'Holy Spirit Movement' for lack of sincerity. One must be a true believer to face live bullets half naked. Sincere? Yes. But wrong, dead wrong."

For many of us, our sincerity about Jesus Christ is pockmarked with lingering doubt, something that needs to be removed for us to fully know the power of Christ in our lives. It is much like the panicking father who had an encounter with Jesus ...

"One of the men in the crowd spoke up and said, 'Teacher, I brought my son so you could heal him. He is possessed by an evil spirit that won't let him talk. And whenever this spirit seizes him, it throws him violently to the ground. Then he foams at the mouth and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast out the evil spirit, but they couldn't do it.' Jesus said to them, 'You faithless people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.' So they brought the boy. But when the evil spirit saw Jesus, it threw the child into a violent convulsion, and he fell to the ground, writhing and foaming at the mouth. 'How long has this been happening?' Jesus asked the boy's father. He replied, 'Since he was a little boy. The spirit often throws him into the fire or into water, trying to kill him. Have mercy on us and help us, if you can.' 'What do you mean, "If I can?"' Jesus asked. 'Anything is possible if a person believes.' The father instantly cried out, 'I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!'" Mark 9:17-24.

This man, like many today, needed to settle the issue of his sincerity about Jesus Christ. When we finally see Jesus, the sincerity of our faith in Him will be revealed ...

"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord!Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws'," Matthew 7:21-23.

How sincere is your faith in Jesus Christ?

Scotty

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