Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 1:12-14
We often end our letters with the words “yours sincerely”, but Paul begins his letter with the word sincerity! The Corinthian Church had misunderstood Paul, and now he writes to share his heart with them. He says that whether they understand him or not he has a clear conscience, has acted towards them in simplicity and godly sincerity, not depended upon human wisdom, and in what he writes there is no hidden meaning. “Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter” [verse 13 The Message]. In a word he has been genuine, the real deal, authentic in all his dealings, and never tried to deceive them.
Let’s look more closely at these verses. Firstly, Paul has a clear conscience, and knows in his heart that he has done nothing wrong. He is able to look people in the face without guilt or shame. How blessed to have a clear conscience. I personally struggled for a long time over the way a fellow missionary had treated me. I was angry and never wanted to meet him again, but my conscience was troubled. Finally, in obedience to the Holy Spirit, I wrote to him and asked for forgiveness. God’s peace immediately flooded my heart and my conscience was no longer troubled.
Secondly, Paul has acted towards them in simplicity. In modern English the word simplicity means uncomplicated, but the Greek haplotes translated here as simplicity has a very different meaning. It means without duplicity or double-mindedness. With Paul there is no hidden agenda. Some versions of the Bible translate this word as holiness. Some manuscripts read honesty.
Thirdly, Paul acted towards the Corinthian Church with godly sincerity. He was transparent in a God-like way, because he relied on God’s wisdom and grace and not on earthly and fleshly wisdom. “God wants us to be real and transparent in all our relationships. If we aren’t, we may end up lowering ourselves to spreading rumours, gossiping, and second-guessing” [The Life Application Bible].
It is impossible to live a victorious Christian life without a clear conscience, being single minded, sincere, transparent, and without hidden agendas. This is the basis of Christian fellowship. John writes, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin” [1 John 1:7]. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character and the beauty of authenticity!
If a person gets really close to you, what would they see? Would it be the same in the church as in the home? Are there areas of duplicity in your life that you need to deal with and the Holy Spirit to transform?
Can you sleep at night, knowing that your heart, as far as is possible, is at peace with men, and your conscience clear?
Why is transparency and sincerity so important in fellowship?