“Sine Cera” a Latin phrase meaning ‘without wax.’ The connection to our modern word, sincere, isn’t instantly obvious until we explore the usage of the phrase. Seems that it came from the potters and sculptors of the ancient world. If you had spent time molding and firing a pot only to discover cracks that marred its usefulness, you could quickly make the pot marketable by heating some wax and pressing it into the cracks before finishing the item. Goofed on an expensive block of marble? Mix a little marble dust into some wax and cover your mistake. Initially, no one would know that the item was flawed. However, craftsman who was in business for the long haul, who wanted repeat customers, advertised that his products were ‘sine cera!’ – without wax.
The Scripture directs that “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (Romans 12:9-11, NIV)
A feigned love for God, good, and others is unworthy of those who are loved by God with a pure love; but insincerity creeps into the fellowship of Believers too frequently to be ignored. We can ‘play along’ without being discovered for a long time. Want to be considered a ‘good Christian?’ Just show up in church with regularity, put on a smile and say, ‘praise the Lord,’ when mildly irritated, do some kind deed when it’s sure to be noticed and — you’re in! You might even be elected to the Deacon Board despite having no real relationship with Christ or true desire for holiness of heart. But, the ‘wax’ will eventually make its presence known– in the critical moment when the fires of life turn up the heat. What is real is often revealed in us when life gets tough, and it will, sooner or later. Job loss, a stretch of health problems, general uncertainty are just a few things that will melt the wax from the cracks, if they exist.
“But, Jerry, I’m not perfect and neither are you.” Good objection and true, too. That’s the glory of grace. God can use cracked pots, of which I am chief! One of my favorite passages says – We don’t go around preaching about ourselves; we preach Christ Jesus, the Lord. All we say about ourselves is that we are your servants because of what Jesus has done for us. … this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.” (2 Corinthians 4:5-7, NLT)
To be used of God we don’t have to be extra-ordinary or flawless. In fact, when we are honest about our inabilities, our uncertainties, our present ‘cracks’ in understanding; we make it possible for the Spirit of God to dwell in us in power. His Presence wonderfully compensates for our human frailty! When we are sincere in faith, though imperfect, we will be able to take the heat of life without losing the shine of Christ’s Presence. The passage I started to quote above, goes on to say — You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, The Message) Isn’t that rich? Paul is speaking from his own experience. Filled with the Spirit of God, he went the length and breadth of the Roman world preaching the message that Jesus Christ was the Way to Abundant Life now and Eternal Life later! His reward was often to be beaten, thrown out of a city, and even rejected by those who trusted more in religious law than Christ’s grace. But, he stayed faithful, letting the cracks show and trusting that the reality of the One who empowered him would show through.
The temptation to apply a little wax, to pretend a little, to let ourselves be thought to be someone other than who we are, is constant. It is often said in our time, “image is everything.” Let’s not buy the lie. Instead, as we are secure in the grace and love of God, let’s live ‘sine cera,’ without wax!
Father, we come to you this Monday morning with an open heart,
trusting your love, mercy, and grace.
We know that Your eyes see us as we are, not as we wish we were,
and you love us still.
Give me a pure heart, a sincere heart, that seeks You and
lives for You, without hypocrisy.
May my willingness to live with integrity, to tear away every pretension,
to throw away the wax that could temporarily cover the cracks in character,
allow the Spirit to make a new heart in me and to create the likeness of Jesus Christ in my life.
I pray this Lord in the name of the loving Lord,
“Teaching People how to say “Yes” to God!”