How many times have you heard or read, “With a sincere heart?” Perhaps you received a letter that was signed, “Sincerely yours.” But how much do we know about sincerity?  The term “Sincere,” was first recorded in English in the 1530s, from the Latin word sincerus, meaning “clean, pure, sound, etc.,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Then, during the 14th century Renaissance in Spain, Spanish sculptors who made mistakes while carving expensive marble often patched their flaws with cera – “wax.” A statue that had no flaws and required no patching was hailed as a sculpture sin cera or a “sculpture without wax.” The phrase eventually came to mean anything honest or true. The English word sincere evolved from the Spanish sin cera – meaning, “without mixture such as honey without the honey comb.”

But all of this comes with certain attachments, say psychologists. You can certainly be sincere with someone without being impolite. Today we have a saying that illustrates this: “Start running you mouth before putting your brain in gear.” Also, do not attempt to be sincere while sugarcoating the truth. We all have the right to know the truth, but we also have the right to interpret this knowledge. The ideal thing is for us, as adults, to be emotionally strong and accept the discomforts of life. This way, we’ll be able to take action from a fair position.

Being sincere is also an art form.  It implies putting yourself in the other person’s place, knowing if they are ready to receive the truth. Furthermore, using the appropriate verbal and nonverbal tools is key. That’s why psychologists tell us that people need two basic dimensions to be happy: trust and security. Neither of them can be achieved on their own. Our most significant relationships offer us acknowledgement and sincerity.

Nevertheless, some experts on relationships, such as Marianne Dainton from La Salle University in Philadelphia, show us that at times, lies and omissions are necessary in order to maintain the balance within the relationship itself and to protect our loved one. But one thing is certain, not everyone supports this theory.

We must be ready to be sincere on a daily basis, because sincerity requires bravery and people want a relationship to be one of brave souls. People must know that we always tell the truth and follow through on our word. As a result, we can offer a heart that is sincere – without anything mixed in. It is not necessary to tell those around us every thought that crosses our mind, every personal opinion or each reflection we may have. We should all have our own personal and nontransferable space. But the key is to not hide things. We must use sincerity to build, unite and create bonds. To create a project and give strength to the relationship itself.

Sincerity not only makes other people feel good; it also helps us find the inner tranquility that comes with authentic vital commitment. Now, what does a lack of sincerity usually cause in a close relationship? It creates distance. A lack of sincerity can always be sensed sooner or later, and not dealing with it creates a great deal of suffering. Not knowing how to express needs and looking for a way to do so creates blame and sometimes even cause a breakup. Thoughts that are hidden, truths that aren’t said, opinions that are bottled up and feelings that are hid… they are all negative emotions in the long-term that translate to dissatisfaction and frustration. It’s dangerous.

So, do you keep your word? Remember that by not doing so you leave scars of distrust in others, that will be remembered in the future with sadness and sorrow. The longer the wound stays open the more difficult it is to heal. There are very few people that will get tired of loving in this life. But we can become exhausted by having to wait, to listen to promises and false hopes, to assume and listen to apologies. All they’re looking for is someone who is sincere.

There is another thing to keep in mind, sincerity is not substitute for authenticity. The problem is that sincerity is consistent with a wide and restless variation in one’s beliefs, desires, and emotions as far as the person hasn’t deceived themselves about his or her actual states of mind. Some people claim they are being sincere as an opportunist whose only concern is their own pleasure and happiness. While sincerity allows uninhibited expression and enactment, it does not give license to uses negative phrases such as “fool,” “idiot,” “lazy good-for-nothing,” etc. Every time we do it opens us up to hypocrisy. As Jesus once said, “Let those without any faults or failures throw the first stone.”[1]

The Apostle Peter told his readers that since they purified their souls by their obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.[2] And to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul had this motivational thought, “If I’m proud of anything, it’s that my conscience is clear, that I behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.[3] Paul then goes on to say that he was not like some who peddle God’s Word, but as a person of sincerity, as commissioned by God. And with God looking on, he preaches what the Anointed One gave him to share.[4]

Then, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians he advises everyone to be responsible to those over them in the world and in the Lord. But not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.[5]

So, what can we learn from this? Sincerity means being honest and genuine without any pretense, misrepresentation, or deceit. Being a more sincere person can refer to how you interact with others, but ultimately sincerity must begin within yourself, from your heart. Learning to recognize your thoughts and feelings can help you become a more genuine person, which in turn can help you become more sincere in your dealings with others.

Also, when you do something good, don’t expect a reward. Giving is an act of an expression of your genuine concern for others, a sincerity and interest in other people. If you make your opinions and feelings obvious to others, there is a chance to become a sincere person. If you want to remain a sincere person, you should always look for the good in situations, in you and in other people. Put yourself into the other person’s shoes and see where they’re coming from. If negative connotations arise, use your positive affirmations to outweigh the negatives and to find the brighter side of every situation.

Furthermore, always tell the truth but without blaming or bullying. Sincerity is about spontaneity, immediacy, spur-of-the-moment decisions, which well up from your genuine self. If you polish responses whether by letter, e-mail, or speech, you will remove the sincerity and replace it with layers of attempted perfectionism, caution, and even trying to smooth things out. Remember, God reconciled people hostile to Him by being sincere, and with His Spirit living in you, you can do the same. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] John 8:7

[2] 1 Peter 1:22

[3] 2 Corinthians 1:12

[4] Ibid. 2:17

[5] Colossians 3:22

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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