But the wisdom from above is … sincere.James 3:17
Good old Greek has a word for doing something without hypocrisy. That word – which you don’t really need to know as it’s unlikely to change the conversation you’re having over a cup of coffee/tea/orange juice/water – is what other translations have helpfully summarised as to do something with sincerity. There’s a quality that’s not often explored in depth – what is it to live sincerely? What is it to live without hypocrisy?
People at this juncture might want to trumpet the ability to ‘speak your mind’ and be all about ‘what you see is what you get’ and make a big deal of how they tend to be honest about everything. This, however, is sometimes used as an excuse to be uncaring, unsympathetic, self-centred, rude and obnoxious.
The sincerity referred to in the context of the qualities that mark heavenly wisdom is the kind that lets the recipients of the wisdom know that this is being done from a place of authenticity. The love that is being given is real, the wisdom being expressed is not tainted with hidden agendas or subtle desires to trick or deceive another. The exercise of this wisdom is not to present one face for convenience when hiding another face that shows other sentiments.
Elements in modern culture promote hypocrisy and insincerity. That is definitely the way of the world as it tells you that to get ahead you have to know how to play the game, how to put on the face, how to say whatever needs to be said to get to the top regardless of what’s really going on inside. As well as that, the way of the world wants to dissuade you from the sincerity thing because people won’t be able to deal with it, they’re far more used to the agreed platitudes that don’t require much commitment or invitation to truly be open and sincere.
Wisdom from above does not start from that cynical or self-indulgent perspective. This is the wisdom that already started off with pure motives. This wisdom is looking for what makes for peace and that calls for this degree of sincerity. This wisdom being gentle and open to reason will not put the barrier of insincerity to confuse signals. The wisdom that is merciful and full of good works thrives on this kind of sincerity.
The wisdom from above is in such stark contrast to what goes for the norm. Yet it is the wisdom that we were created to reflect even as we recognise that we are made in the image of the one who rules from above. It is His help by His indwelling Spirit that allows us to have that degree of sincerity in the decisions we make, not for selfish gain, but for the peace of God to be present in the world.
God help us sincerely.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden