Are You Sincere?
I'm sure most have heard such statements as, "It doesn't matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere" or "Oh, I don't know much about the Bible, but I'm just as sincere as the next fellow". Question is, can a person really be sincere and not know what the Bible teaches?
The apostle Paul says, "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ" (Philippians 1:9-10, emp LS). To be biblically sincere, Paul teaches that our love must abound in knowledge.
One's love must "abound yet more and more" Paul says. The word love is the Greek word agape and means "affection, good will, love, benevolence" Thayer. It's the love that God has for man (John 3:16); man should have for God (I John 5:3); and that each Christian should have for others (I Corinthians 13). This love is to "abound yet more and more", that is, one can never love too much.
Paul says that our love should abound "in knowledge" (real knowledge, NASB), which is "precise and correct knowledge". That "knowledge" of which Paul speaks is truth (John 17:17) and is increased by study (2 Timothy 2:15). One must love the truth and study and learn all he can about it (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Love is nothing without action and knowledge is useless without application.
This text also shows that each of us must make judgements. Paul says that our love should abound in knowledge and "in all judgement" (discernment, NASB) which means, "perception, not only by the senses but also by the intellect" Thayer. When we make a "judgement" we simply try to tell the difference between things with knowledge. I can make a "judgement" between an apple and a peanut by using my senses and knowledge. Many will say, "Judge not, that ye be not judged!" anytime one tries to point out religious error. Jesus was teaching against harsh judgements (Matthew 7:1), and taught that we are to make judgements (John 7:24).
Does it make any difference what you believe? Can one just believe any religious doctrine and claim sincerity? Paul continues that we “must approve things that are excellent”. To "approve" something is "to test, examine, prove (to see whether a thing be genuine or not)" Thayer. That which is "excellent" means "the things that are different". Paul says we are to test things that differ to see which is right.
Look at all the denominations that exist today. Should we test them to determine if they be genuine or not? My friend, to be "sincere" (used by the Greeks to mean "judged of in the sunlight and so found genuine") one's love must increase with knowledge of God's Word and make judgements, testing and examining those religious differences. Are you sincere?