Do you know the origin of the word “sincere”? Our word sincere comes from a Latin word which means “without wax.” You might be wondering how in the world we derived our meaning from a root that originally meant “without wax.” In ancient times, fine expensive pottery often developed tiny cracks when it was fired in the kiln. Deceitful merchants would smear pearly white wax over the cracks until they disappeared, then claim the pottery was unblemished. But when the pottery was held up to the sun, the light would reveal the cracks filled in with wax. So, honest merchants marked their porcelain with the words sine cera…without wax.

This is what Paul meant when he prayed that the Phillipian believers would “abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10, NASB). When he used the word translated as sincere he meant no hidden cracks, no ulterior motives, no hidden agendas, genuine, transparent.

Are you aware, also, that the word hypocrite comes from the ancient Greek plays? An actor would place a large, grinning mask in front of his face and recite his comedic lines as the audience would roar with laughter. He would then slip backstage and grab a frowning, sad, oversized mask and come back performing tragic lines as the audience would moan and weep. Guess what he was called? A hipocritos, one who wears a mask.

Why am I plying you with Greek and Latin definitions? Because often we are hypocrites in our relationships. Not in the sense that we aren’t true in our sentiments towards others but rather in our hiding who we really are, what we think, how we feel.

Let’s face it, in life we wear masks. We do it, naturally, to hide ourselves from others. At times, this is done to protect ourselves and prevent others from hurting us. Some of us have been so wounded in the past that we suppress who we are and hide behind a mask in order to hide from others. We want to avoid being judged or rejected.

Other times we wear a mask because we simply have the need to please others. Some people have the personality of a chameleon, they change into the person that suits the person they’re with at the moment or the situation or the social setting they’re in. I think everyone must have met this type of person at one time or another. This is the kind of person who all of a sudden likes plays or hiking or baseball or fishing or foreign films because it is what their current partner likes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking about developing a genuine enjoyment of an activity you’ve been introduced to. Of course I agree that this happens. Maybe you’ve never skied before and someone you’re dating encourages you to try it and you end up loving it. This is not what I’m talking about. I am talking about a person who almost takes on the personality, language, life of the person they’re with. I had a friend like this in college. If the guy she was dating was conservative she wore conservative clothing, if he was a punk rocker she switched to that style, etc. Someone like this leads us to believe that they are not sure of who they are.

Other times the mask takes the form of simply hiding a perceived fault. We’re afraid if someone saw a particular fault of ours they might not like us so we suppress it. We try to keep that person from perhaps seeing what a volatile temper we have, or how impatient we can get, etc.

Still others wear a mask in order to manipulate. Someone fools you into thinking they are one way in order to get you interested and then they unmask themselves and you’re left wondering why they changed.

The scriptures, however, call us to “transparency.” From the minute the Lord instituted social interaction in the Garden with our Parents, Adam and Eve, He commanded that they should be naked and not ashamed. It is a risky business-transparency, the ability to be seen for who you really are.

I am not going to offer ways of breaking this destructive habit of hiding but there are plenty of resources out there that will help and I encourage you to seek them out. I am here to say, however, that if we are ever to fully love and be loved we must learn to be transparent. We can’t fool anyone. Eventually we’ll be held up to the Light and our cracks will show anyway (no matter how much “wax” we’ve attempted to apply!) Let us, therefore, learn to put ourselves out there, cracks and all. Let’s allow ourselves to be held up to the light and be labeled sine cera. And so… here I am, my friends, sincerely yours.

Michele Cedo

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