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"Sincerely" is a word that we use more often than any other to end our letters, and yet there are very few people who know the derivation and the true meaning of that common word. "Sincere" ("sin-cere") means "without wax." Now you know something probably none of your friends knows. So what does "without wax" mean? Well, in the old days, if something was dented or had a gash in it, or even if it had a hole in it, they used to fill the damaged area with wax, and then they would cover the wax over with a coat of paint and sell the item as though it were undamaged. If we are "sincere," it means we are without wax; we are underneath as we appear to be on the surface.

Jesus said that we are to be like children. He didn't mean that we are to be childish or immature; he meant that, as adults, we are to be child-like. Young children, before they get older and learn the art of deception and lying, are transparent, without veneer or phoniness. They really are what they appear to be. They are sincere, "without wax," and Jesus is saying that is the way we should be. In one of the beatitudes, he says, "Blessed are those who are pure in heart," that is without the stain of untruth, without a protective cover of phoniness..

I remember vividly an experience I had many years ago when I was just beginning my Christian walk. Someone who was in a position of authority over me asked me if I had done a certain thing, which in fact I had indeed done, and I lied and said no, that it wasn't I. I do not recall specifically what it was that I did, but it was something in which I was quite sure I could not be found out, so I felt secure in lying. However, I failed to take into consideration my conscience, which increasingly convicted me of my lie, and hounded me to such a degree that I found myself in a horrible quandary. On the one hand, I was suffering great torment because I had lied, but on the other hand, the idea of confessing to my superior that I was a liar was more than I thought I could face. After an hour of great conflict between these two unacceptable prospects, I finally made a decision. Having no idea of the consequences, I forced myself to go back to my superior and acknowledge that I had lied. He looked at me for a moment, and then, with just the hint of a smile on his face, he said, "Buzz, I am glad that you were man enough to tell me." And then he added, "I knew it anyway," and he turned and walked away.

I learned three valuable lessons from that experience. The first is that a lie, even a simple one, is never worth the cost. The second is that the longer we let a lie or a wrong doing go unconfessed, the more difficult it becomes to bring ourselves to confess it. And the third is that, contrary to our expectations, people actually think more of us when we confess a lie or a wrong doing, not less, because they can see that, while we are human, at our core we are honest and sincere, without wax.

author unknown    6/28/2005


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