– Francis de Sales
Not Even Close to Perfect
Paul told Timothy that “the aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:5) and said that Timothy had “sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Tim 1:5). Now being sincere doesn’t mean perfection because someone can be sincere but sincerely wrong. Paul was stressing that Timothy’s faith should be sincere or genuine and not just for an outward show. Peter declares that this kind of love is “a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet 1:22). That doesn’t mean that a pure heart means perfection, but that love emanates from a genuine or sincere love for one another. To be sincere is to admit imperfections, but it also means being who you are despite those imperfections.
No one likes a hypocrite or someone who is pretending to be someone they are not. There is strength in transparency, and confessing our faults to one another is a command. James writes to the church and says to “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). Many came to John and were baptized but notice that they came “confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River” (Matt 3:6). When the church was growing, “many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done” (Acts 19:18). Confession is good for the soul because “he who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Prov 28:13). You can’t be any more genuine or sincere than when you confess your sins and faults to others. That is a very humbling thing to do and shows that not one of us is perfect.
Part of being who you are is not pretending to be someone or something you are not. That’s called hypocrisy. God hates any kind of hypocrisy. Jesus described the leaven of the Pharisees as hypocrisy (Luke 12:1). They tried to trick Jesus by acting sincere, but He knew they were doing it in hypocrisy (Mark 12:15), and whoever tries to appear righteous is full of hypocrisy (Matt 23:28). Hypocrites like to do things to be seen by others (Matt 6:2). They try to act religious but forget about mercy and justice (Matt 23:23). They look good on the outside but inwardly are full of dead men’s bones (Matt 23:27). They are acting like someone they actually aren’t and not trying to be who they really are: sinners in need of a Savior.
Jesus detests when people act religious and pretend to be something they are not. I am not guiltless in this either. If only we could all be who we are, warts and all, and not try to be religious because it’s not about religion, but about a relationship.