People often pretend and conceal. But as Pastor Charles Edward Jefferson shows, Jesus was always sincere, always authentic, always truly Himself.

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The opposite of every form of deceit

“There is an adjective which the word ‘friend’ will not keep company with, and that is the adjective ‘insincere.’ You cannot induce them to stay together in the same room. They flatly contradict each other. The moment we find out that a comrade is insincere with us, he ceases to be our friend. Sincerity is the very blood and breath of friendship. . . . There is nothing which so takes the life out of us as the discovery that someone whom we have trusted has been other than what he seemed to be.”

“And yet how common insincerity is. What a miserable old humbug of a world we are living in, full of trickery and dishonesty and deceit of every kind. Society is cursed with affectation, business is honeycombed with dishonesty, the political world abounds in duplicity and chicanery, there is sham and pretense everywhere. . . . The life of many a man and many a woman is one colossal lie. We say things we do not mean, express emotions we do not feel, praise when we secretly condemn, smile when there is a frown on the face of the heart, give compliments when we are thinking curses. We strive a hundred times a week to make people think we are other than we really are.”

“Thank God there are hearts here and there upon which we can depend. . . . It is to the honest heart that we return again and again, seeking rest and finding it. It is a fountain at which we drink and refresh ourselves for the toilsome journey. Beautiful, indeed, is the virtue of sincerity. It is not a gaudy virtue. It does not glitter. It has no sparkle in it. But it is substantial. It is life-giving. It sustains and nourishes the heart. . . . There are some things we cannot be, and many things we cannot do. But this one thing is within the reach of us all — we may ask God unceasingly to keep our heart sincere.”

Tell the Truth

“Would you see sincerity in its loveliest form, then come to Jesus. Here is a man incapable of a lie. Nothing was so abhorrent to him as falsehood. No other people so stirred his wrath as men who pretended to be what they were not. The most odious word upon his lips was ‘hypocrite.’ Have you ever wondered why it is impossible to speak that word without it falling from the lips like a serpent — it is because his curse is resting on it. . . . He breathed the hot breath of his scorn into it, and it has been ever since a word degraded and lost.”

“A hypocrite and Jesus cannot live together. It was his constant exhortation that men should speak the truth. The religious leaders of his day had divided oaths into two classes — one class binding, the other not. If an oath contained the name of God, it was binding on the conscience; if for God’s name some other name was substituted, then the conscience might go free. Jesus was disgusted by the reasoning of the bat-eyed pettifoggers. ‘Do not swear at all,’ he said. ‘Let your communication be yea, yea, nay, nay.’ In other words, ‘If you want to render a thing emphatic, simply say it over again. If men doubt you, then quietly repeat what you have already declared.'”

“It was the belief of Jesus that a man’s word ought to be as good as his oath. . . . If the world were the kind of world God wants it to be, then all the evidence that would be needed to prove a certain thing true would be that a man had asserted it. If it is necessary now in courts of justice to make use of oaths, it is because the Evil One has corrupted many hearts and rendered the ordinary speech of humanity unreliable. In an ideal world all oaths are unnecessary.”

Use Plain Words

“It was because of Jesus’ incorruptible sincerity that we have from his lips such a remarkable outpouring of plain words. You and I do not like plain words. We dare not use them — at least often. We water our words down. We pull the string out of them. We substitute long Latin words for plain, short, Anglo-Saxon words, for by multiplying the syllables we attenuate the meaning. For instance, we say ‘prevarication’ instead of ‘lie,’ because falsehood when expressed pompously loses its blackness and grossness.”

“But Jesus would not use words of velvet when words of velvet flattered and deceived. It was his work to help men see themselves as they were. He characterized them by words which accurately described their character. One day he told a crowd in Jerusalem that they were of their father the devil and the lusts of their father they were eager to do. He went on to add that the devil was a murderer and that he abode not in the truth because the truth was not in him. We are shocked by such plainness of speech. We do not like it. Is that because we dare not express things as they are? Have we gotten into the habit of hiding our eyes and trying to make black things seem gray or even white?”

Do Not Conceal

“Jesus was incorrigibly sincere. . . . There was a strong inducement for him to conceal his extraordinary knowledge. A man makes himself odious by claiming to know more than other men. . . . But Jesus was a man of truth. He could not disguise the fact that his knowledge was unique and that his power was unparalleled. Because he was true he could not hold back the fact that he was the Good Shepherd and the Door, the Bread of Life, and the Light of the World. Nothing but sincerity would ever have driven him to outrage the feelings of his countrymen by assertions so extraordinary. . . . These remarkable declarations of his in regard to the nature of his personality and the range of his power were forced from his lips by a heart unswervingly loyal to the truth.”

“The warnings of Jesus have often aroused criticism and condemnation because of their severity. . . . He told certain men they were moving onward to perdition and painted their loss and ruin in phrases which have caused the human heart to shudder. How will you account for such vigor of language? It was certainly cruel to speak such words if he did not know the possibilities and doom of sin. If he knew, then he was bound to tell. The awful parables of the New Testament are the product of a heart that was uncompromisingly sincere. To speak soft words to men whose feet are hastening down the road to ruin, how was it possible to do it? His very sincerity drove him into language which to our cold hearts seems exaggerated and needlessly abusive.”

“He called the leaders in Jerusalem liars, blind men, fools, serpents, vipers. If they were not all this, then Jesus stands condemned for making use of such cutting words. But suppose these men were precisely what such words described, then what? Suppose they were in fact liars and fools and blind men, was it not the duty of Jesus to inform them of their pitiable condition? What else could a sincere friend do? These men supposed they could see and were wise, but if they were mistaken was it not incumbent on an honest man to deliver them if possible from their delusion? . . . The Lord of truth must use words which accurately characterize the persons who are to be instructed and warned.”

Trust in Truth

“The inmost heart of Jesus finds utterance in his declaration to Pontius Pilate that he had come into the world to bear witness to the truth. That was his work. He never shirked it. He never grew weary in doing it. He was surrounded all his life by men who bore witness to falsehoods. . . . They misrepresented his deeds and his words and his motives. They filled the air with lies. . . . But in the midst of the despicable set of false-minded, false-hearted maligners and murderers, he stood forth, calm, radiant, the one man in all the world whose lips had never been sullied by a falsehood and whose heart had never been stained by a lie.”

“This unquestioned loyalty to truth gives his words a value which no other words possess. When we listen to the words of other men, we must make subtractions and allowances. No man puts his whole self into his speech. His words reveal him and they also conceal him. There is a discrepancy between the soul and what the mouth declares. Not so with Jesus. He holds back nothing. What he thinks he says, what he feels he declares. . . . He declares all things as they are. He is not swerved by sin within nor cowed by hostile forces from without.”

“This, then, is the man we want. . . . To him we can flee when sick at heart because of the deceptions of the world. . . . When men disappoint us and friends are few, we can come to one who says, ‘I am the truth.’ When we are weary and heavy-laden, we can rest our souls upon one who is as certain as the morning and as faithful as the stars. The world is filled with jangling voices and it is hard to know which voice to trust; but his voice . . . inspires assurance and quenches uncertainty and doubt.”

“What he teaches about God we can receive. . . . What he declares of sin and the penalty of sin we can accept. What he tells us of the soul we can depend upon. What he asserts concerning the principles of a victorious life we can act upon, never doubting. When he tells us to do a thing we can do it, assured that it is the best thing to do. When he warns us against a course of action we can shun it, knowing that in that direction lie night and death. The path which he exhorts us all to take we can take with boldness, convinced that if we take it we shall arrive safe at home at last.”

Excerpts from The Character of Jesus by Charles Edward Jefferson (Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1908)

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