Why We Need to Redeem Sincerity
It feels awkward to say to someone that I want to pray for them. It feels strange to send someone an encouraging note telling them the strengths I see in them. Actually speaking an encouraging word can feel downright weird. So, I don’t put myself out there in authentic, sincere ways.
Why? Is it because our culture is full of sarcasm and tweetable hate?
When Nathaniel met Jesus in John 1, Jesus says, “Now here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” Nathaniel says, “How do you know me?”. I laughed out loud. It seemed so proud to own that description.
Then I realized I am reading this through my 21st century eyes where our culture exudes sarcasm and pride.
Jesus said that sentence without a hint of sarcasm because he spoke Truth.
Nathaniel could own it because it must have been true. He was not prideful. He was simply an honest, sincere man (since the opposite of deceit is honest and sincere).
The bald truth can seem bold. Nothing covering it. No hedging. No backing up and weaving around it. We are not a society that promotes unabashed sincerity.
Yet, we are drawn like moths to light when it appears. Rather than the common “insert joke here” introduction, a writer and speaker dives right in with rich metaphor that draws us closer to God and makes us fidget in our chairs. Or consider when a young teen offers his homecoming crown to another.
Sincere positive reinforcement (not every child gets a trophy but individualized “I see this trait in you and it’s good”) can change a child’s behavior and make him want to get good attention rather than negative. My oldest son lights up when I tell him I love how generous he is being to share his cake with his little brother. That kid, he shares just about everything now.
Sincere encouragement can bring tears to your eyes when you are feeling torn down. It can breathe life into a body that is drowning in lies. I know. I was there this past week.
So, I want to write some encouragement here for you, dear reader:
Do you know you are loved? Look up at the sky. Try to find the end of it. God’s love for you is bigger than that. He said so. He acted so. So, it is so.
A product of my culture, when someone talks about God’s love for me, I can get squirmy and a little eye rolly.
But, I so need to meditate on that love.
Have you ever had someone love you unconditionally (or just about unconditionally)? Have you ever had someone you know would be there for you no matter what time of day or for what reason?
I hope so.
It feels like that person is your woobie. You know, that thing you dragged around as a child and needed for comfort. They can speak love to you in a way you can hear and push back the darkness that threatens.
God is infinitely more than that.
Do you know what God says about you? Listen to Him. He speaks Truth.
He called Nathaniel a person without deceit because it was true.
He knows you. And, he calls you things nicer than you call yourself (or is that just me with the negative self talk?).
Search the Word for how God loves you. You have to know love and truth to speak it to others.
Then, take a risk and tell someone something sincere and encouraging. So often, the church is an ugly place to those outside of it, sometimes to those inside it too. Bring light and life as God does.
Who will you sincerely love today?