In Sincerity

“Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” (Ephesians 6:24, emphasis mine)

If you’re not sure, just ask. Nothing worse than going on in blindness, not knowing that you’re somehow missing the Lord altogether through some feigned authenticity. Paul closes his letter to the Christians in Ephesus with that caveat. Nearly all his canonical letters end on a grace note, so to speak. It’s Ephesians that tacks on those last two words.

“Therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” (Malachi 2:16b)

While that part of Malachi is repeated from the verse prior to it (2:15), and both deal with a husband’s conduct towards his wife in remaining true to her in heart and mind, I think the same admonition could be leveled at those who profess Christ. There is a deep work that necessarily takes place in the heart and mind of those who “love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity” to where you know. You know that you know the one who “loved [you] and gave himself for [you]” (Galatians 2:20) and are beyond convinced that you are in fellowship with him. Because it’s something that is living and active, if I may.

“Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.” (Psalm 138:6)

Again, if you’re not sure as to your level of sincerity (or lack thereof), just ask. When you first believed is when you received “the adoption of sons [and daughters].” (Galatians 4:5b) In other words, the same status that Christ possesses by virtue of being “the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29b) did you receive. I have to say, that a prolonged period of disconnect through the willful ignoring of him is a position that no child of his should even consider approaching. But again, reestablishing what you had when you first met him is as simple as a childlike acknowledgement or conversation. Find something to thank him for that he has done for you in the past week or so. This is how sincerity is built, one thought at a time.

“If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it no; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? And he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? And shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:12)

Authenticity has to be the hardest thing to fake. How would one even go about doing that? As an image presented necessarily needs not just a model but also a sounding board (audience), authenticity on the order of Christ must have him in view. When Jesus said “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:9) he implies that when one is transparent in heart, they’ll see through everything to the Father. Point is, there is a level of sincerity and authenticity that Jesus builds in to you when you endeavor to live as did he: with reference to God. And if you’re having trouble with your sincerity, he’ll help you. Meanwhile, act like him. Be kind and thoughtful and present with those whom you encounter. Lift people up before the Lord and pray for them and you’ll look back at intervals and see yourself becoming the person God thought of when he first made—and then remade (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)—you.

“And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things.” (1 John 3:19-20)

Aliquot

“Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.” (Job 9:10)

If you really know how to look—I mean take the time to focus your attention on how many things that God has done to speak to your heart, you will see the proliferation of his blessings to you. There are some things he does for us, however, that require a little more focus, a little more attention and care.

“A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.” (Proverbs 17:8)

Think nothing of it

Some gifts he gives are more like pieces of him. Take, for instance, the gift of the Holy Spirit in whatever capacity the Lord has showered on you. In the case of Christ, he had the full measure (“…and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him” Luke 3:22a) but as we take our inspiration in the things of the Spirit from him anyway, that’s a good place to start. When, in the next chapter of Luke’s Gospel, he stands up to explain why he has this gift and what it’s to be used for, we understand that our own ideas as to what we’re gonna do with what we’ve got don’t always go to the top floor with reference to God. Here’s that verse from the next chapter:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

It sounds like the gift of “The Spirit of the Lord” ensured Jesus would be quite a busy guy. Those six things he listed were the laundry-list of acts that he went about doing during the three years of his ministry.

Dead giveaway

Paul quotes the 68th psalm in his letter to the Ephesians. He’s equating the psalmist’s declaration of God with Christ—as, I suppose, he had the authority to do (see 1 Timothy 1:11)—when he says:

“Wherefore he (David) saith, When he (Christ) ascended up on high, he led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men.”

Interesting distinction: whereas the version of the verse in Ephesians uses “gave” with reference to the “gift of Christ” (4:7), the original scripture from the Psalms (68:18) uses the English verb “received”, indicating that the gifts have been taken back and then reallocated for us. It might be nothing more than a triviality. But as with many things in the Word of God, fine details often have a way of opening up grander vistas than we ever thought were there. Treasures hid in a field, as it were.

An “aliquot part”, as you may know, is simply a piece of a larger whole. Speaking with reference to the science of chemistry or in mathematics, “aliquot” takes on a little more complicated definition. The thing about the gifts of Christ—the gifts of God that are like pieces of him, in my opinion—is that they are for a specific purpose and will only work correctly when used in the service of the God who gave them.

So what is it that you’re doing with your gifts? Use your imagination. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Does it help you plan out your schedule and your weekend? I’m serious. Forward thinking is a gift, just make sure you have your focus trained on the one who’s letting you see things in the first place. How ’bout the gift of teaching? Very simply, the desire to break things down into their constituent parts and then assemble them in a coherent way to those listening is an aspect of it. Use it well. Do you have the gift of helping others (see 1 Corinthians 12:28)? Perhaps that manifests itself in an a way of thinking that doesn’t really consider the person in possession of the gift. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

As it says at the top of the page, God is abundant and generous and wholly unselfish with his gifts. But all of them are aspects of the greatest gift of all. And that’s love. And, well:

“God is love.” (1 John 4:8b)