We all have weaknesses. However, it is not our faults that make us difficult to relate to, but the wax that hides our true self, making it impossible
for others to know where they are in relation to us.
Romans 12:9 tells us: "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
Dissimulation is when we simulate a position or lifestyle, or perhaps an image, that leads other people to believe something different about ourselves
from what is real.
In other words, we cover ourselves with wax so that others do not see the true self.
Modern English translations use the word hypocrisy. Hypocrisy in Romans 12:9 comes from the Greek anupokritos, meaning "without
hypocrisy." Hypocrisy originally referred to acting in a play. Hence our love for each other should be void of pretension and without acting.
Why would anyone want to simulate a life or image that was different from the truth?
Frequently we are not even aware of ourselves behaving in this way. It is natural to tailor our behavior to the people around us.
We learn by copying
Equally, there may be someone within the group, possibly a strong or charismatic personality, who presents an image or enforces a standard that other
people are expected to adopt.
It is true that we humans learn by copying each other, but we should be true to ourselves in the images we adopt from other people.
Peter, for example, was insincere in his relationship to the gentiles, as described in Galatians 2:11-14. Although he knew gentiles were to be treated
the same as all Jews in the church, he would eat with gentiles when he wanted to value them as church members, but he would withdraw from them when other Jews were present.
Peter was presenting a different face to the gentiles from the Jews.
Despite Peter's leading role in the church, he was giving a confused message to the congregation.
Paul spoke face to face, in front of the congregation, to Peter about this. The whole congregation needed to understand that Peter's behavior was
unacceptable because of the damage it would do. It would create a climate in which being two-faced was tolerated, and right and wrong were confused, and there would be two types of
Christians: an inner circle of Jewish Christians and an outer circle of gentile Christians.
By facing up to his problem Peter overcame it and went on to become a giant among the apostles.
Deliberate wrong impressions
Another example in the Bible is that of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). Apparently the brethren in the Jerusalem church at that time had made a joint
decision to pool their resources to support the brethren who were in need. This was not the law of God but a practical, administrative decision of the moment that the brethren had agreed
Ananias and Sapphira evidently did not fully agree with this way of dealing with need in the group, but, rather than simply saying so and then doing
what they wished with their money while contributing some to the communal fund, privately they held some back.
The problem here is not whether we should give all we have to feed the poor, because God never said we should. The problem is with giving the brethren
the impression that we agree with their policy when in fact the opposite is true.
God's opinion of people who lie to the congregation was so serious that He took the lives of Ananias and Sapphira as an example to all who would
follow in their steps.
The issue is not about holding a private opinion that is at odds with other people's but with allowing other people to think we believe the same as
they do when that is untrue.
We have a right to private space in our thoughts. Romans 14:22: "The faith which you have--have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not
condemn himself in what he approves."
We can have private thoughts that we don't want to share with others for various reasons, but it is imperative that we own up to our thoughts with God
and take responsibility for them before Him.
However, for people to relate to each other genuinely, they need to know where they are in relation to each other, especially where there are
Knowing the truth gives us a point of reference without which our world becomes chaotic.
We should be plain and direct in our speech because our speech reflects our thoughts. It damages our own thought process when there is a disconnection
between what we think and how we behave or speak. Our mind becomes confused.
Moreover, when the truth becomes known we have generated mistrust and cynicism in other people. Trust may never be recovered.
Opacity can destroy trust
If we don't behave openly with each other, we reap the consequences, which the above examples illustrate. For example:
We make it more difficult for people to relate to us.
We give a confused message, undermining core values of right and wrong.
Trust is destroyed and may never be retrieved.
If we are in the habit of thinking truth and living honestly, we will more readily recognize error when presented with it because our minds will be
more tuned to picking up something that does not make sense.
Many of us used to belong to a Sabbath-keeping church when the leaders concluded that the Sabbath was no longer a required observance. Unwilling to
say directly, "The Sabbath is not required for Christians," they created confusion in people's minds by casting doubt on the importance of the Sabbath.
While allowed to continue observing the Sabbath for the time being, we were being led to believe that it did not matter.
This is dissimulation. Disconnecting what we practiced from what we believed, the leaders expected us at some point to give up the practice of our own
To provide security and stability for a group, leaders need to be careful that others know what their position is on various matters, both doctrinal
When leaders change accepted norms, others have a right to know where they stand.
Be friends with God
The Lord is open and honest with His people. He reveals His purpose to His people (Amos 3:7).
John 15:14-15: "You are my friends if you do whatever I command you . . . I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have
made known to you."
Friends accept that they will not always feel well or cheerful. Romans 12:15: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
When we come into church in our best clothes with a hearty greeting on our lips, we should be careful we are not trying to convey the image of a
Christian whose life is perfect and problem-free.
We all have severe problems from time to time. We are not more righteous, or closer to God, for having no problems.
We convey genuineness by our body language and the words we speak. People will detect when our body language and our speech are not "congruent," not
in agreement with each other.
Be careful with truth
To conclude, let's consider the second half of Romans 12:9: ". . . Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good."
When we are open and sincere in our dealings with people, not hiding behind a mask of wax, we will more readily accept and distinguish a true doctrine
from the false.
In a world that juggles with truth, we need to cling to what truth we have, or we will simply lose it in time.
We do not live with all of the truth all of the time, but, by striving to be genuine, we can help ourselves to cling to what is good!