A Life Style That Is Simple And Sincere

October 22, 2012

A Life Style That Is Simple And Sincere

            The text for this article is II Corinthians 1:12 which says, “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.”  The Apostle Paul could say that his conscience gave testimony to the fact that he was living in this world in simplicity and godly sincerity.  The word “conversation” sometimes means “behavior.”  In this verse, it could just be translated “manner of life.”

In great measure, our happiness depends on whether we have a good conscience.  If our conscience testifies against us, we live with a feeling of guilt.  Bible commentators tell us that some were criticizing the Apostle Paul.  In part, what he wrote here was addressed towards his critics and to justify his conduct.  Some questioned his sincerity because he had said he would visit them and he didn’t.  In this letter he explained why he hadn’t completed his promise.  Perhaps we could say he was telling them, “I didn’t come for the simple reason that God changed my plans.”

Paul used two words to defend his conduct.  The first is the word “simplicity”.  By that he means that he hadn’t given into the flesh.  The word used here speaks of singleness of heart.  There are some who say one thing and mean another.

In simplicity is the best approach.  Some years ago I heard of an evangelistic  ministry that was considering the purchase of a hotel on a mountain in a popular tourist area.  Their plan was to invite wealthy professionals and business men to spend a week free at the five star hotel.  They were going to entertain and evangelize them while they were there.  I asked myself “Why spend all that money to reach them?  Why don’t they just go to them where they are?” I never heard that they bought that hotel.

Once I dreamed of an evangelistic scheme.  It consisted of a trap door on a sidewalk.  When someone stepped on the door he would fall into a dark hole about ten feet deep.  Inside there was a net that would catch him so he wouldn’t be hurt.  The Christian worker would be waiting below.  As soon as a victim fell into his trap he would turn on the light and introduce himself.  While he helped his victim get untangled from the net he would preach the gospel to him.  He would tell him that Christ stands ready to save him from hell just as that net saved him from bodily injury.  When I woke up, and before giving thought to putting a patent on my invention, I realized it would be more prudent to just talk casually to people and not confront them with a calamity or in a state of shock.

“Sincerity” is the second word Paul uses.  It’s an interesting word.  It had its origin back in the days when people used a lot of clay pots.  If a vessel had a crack in it, it was possible to hide it with wax.  In Spanish the words “without wax” are “sin cera.”  No doubt, it’s similar in Latin.  The word “sincerity” is similar to our word “integrity” which means free from defects and flaws.  When people look at us they should see us as we are, not a front we are putting on to make ourselves look good.  When a salesman tried to sell a clay pot to people back in those days he would say “It’s without wax; it’s sincere.”  That’s the way our life should be.  We need not look for a way to cover up who we are, or why we do what we do.

We should be sincere.   That also means to be honest.  Some people look for ways to manipulate people to get what they want.  Sometimes they flatter them.  At other times they try to intimidate them.  Sometimes they profess to be professionals giving them free advice.  They aren’t sincere.  They are out to take advantage of you.  The Apostle Paul warns us of them in Romans 16:18  “For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”

It is possible to be sincerely wrong.  That’s why Paul calls it “godly sincerity.”  Some may be sincere in their beliefs, but if they aren’t in harmony with what the Bible teaches, their sincerity won’t get them to heaven.  Many think they will get to heaven by their good works; perhaps along with the sacrifice of Christ.  Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that our good works don’t count for salvation.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Paul also said that his living was without “fleshly wisdom.”  James says there are two types of wisdom.  “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.    For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.    But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy”  (James 3:14-17).  The terms James uses for fleshly wisdom are “earthly, sensual and devilish.”  In contrast there is also divine wisdom.  It is the wisdom that is from above.  Fleshly wisdom takes into account science, philosophy, culture and human learning.  It often leaves out what God says.  Fleshly wisdom doesn’t produce the virtues that come from the wisdom that is from above.

With God’s help, your life style can, and should be, in simplicity, godly sincerity, and without fleshly wisdom.  That doesn’t mean that we have to reject all human learning.  We need to put our faith in Christ for salvation and live like God says we should.

 

Our E-mail address is rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

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