Whenever most of us compose a letter, we include a set of standard parts. These are: the heading, the salutation, the body, the closing, and the signature. The closing is usually comprised of something like “Take care”, “Best wishes”, or “Sincerely”. The latter term was the focus of his illustration.
The term “sincere” is said to come from the Latin language. If so, it may well be a combination of two Latin terms: “sin”, meaning “without”, and “ceras”, meaning “wax”. Given the fact that Latin is technically a “dead language” (in that it is no longer spoken), the matter is open to debate.
Nonetheless, the story goes that the phrase “without wax” first became widespread during the height of ancient Roman and Greek culture, when sculptures first became a popular form of artistic expression. Whenever a sculpture had a flaw, the artist is said to have filled in the chip or crack with wax colored to match the marble.
Thus, wax was said to serve as a type of cover-up, masking imperfections on what was supposed to have been a quality piece of work, but was instead terribly flawed. Therefore, only perfect pieces of work were literally “without wax.” Accordingly, pieces were stamped with the phrase “without wax” as proof of their authenticity.
Chris shared that, not being a language scholar himself, he could not definitively vouch for the etymology of the word “sincerely”. Nonetheless, the point of the illustration is well made. Being sincere is very much like being “without wax”. Sincere persons exemplify the virtue of integrity in that they are truthful and honest, without pretense.
Little wonder then, that in that very same Roman culture, the Apostle wrote a letter to the Christians at Ephesus (4:25, ESV) telling them: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another”.
May we also prove to be sincere in our dealings with others, and thereby show the world what the Apostle Paul called “a more excellent way”.
NOTE: As stated above, the etymology of the word “sincere” is heavily debated by scholars to this day. For a fuller discussion, check out: http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/etymology/f/Sincere.htm. See also the discussion at: http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2012/03/sincere.html.
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