Challenge your own Sincerity

Introduction: Josh. 24:14 (God tells us to serve him in sincerity and truth. We have before us, then, the challenge to constantly monitor our sincerity. In this lesson we will look at several issues to help us question our own sincerity.)
I. Thoughts On Sincerity: (Follows are some general thoughts about the character and nature of sincerity.)
1. Good Deeds Can Be Insincere: Phil. 1:16 (Paul spoke of the preaching of some as being insincere. Though the deed itself was good, it was tarnished by insincerity. So even if the deed is good, in the overall picture we can be wrong if we are not sincere. This shows us why it is so important to be sincere.)

2. Greater Love And Knowledge: Phil. 1:9-10 (Paul prayed they would have greater love and knowledge. He spoke of how this could help them to be more sincere. This gives us our litmus test to measure sincerity. We will use love and knowledge to test specific areas of our lives.)

3. Challenge To Test: II Cor. 8:8-11 (Paul challenged the church at Corinth to prove their sincerity by following through on their intentions to help in a benevolent work. So to test your sincerity, you must test to see how you follow through on your intentions. We will basically do this as we examine several areas of the Christian life.)

II. Kindness: (Think of your sincerity in the area of kindness to others.)
1. Be Sincerely Kind: Rom. 12:9-10 (God requires us to treat one another with kindness. He challenges us to see that our love and kindness is genuine, not hypocritical.)

2. But Don t Be Plastic: Prov. 26:24-26 (Yet God warns us about those who are kind but plastically so. You must wonder if you are ever like this. We are supposed to be kind, but are you ever plastically kind? Do you ever put on the "sugar coating" while despising someone behind their back?)

III. Encouragement: (Think of your sincerity in the area of encouraging others.)
1. Build Up: Eph. 4:29 (The Bible teaches us to say things, not to tear others down, but to build them up. So we should say positive things to encourage others.)

2. Empty Flattery: Ps. 12:2, Ps. 55:21 (Yet God warns us about those who speak flattery with evil intent. This is more than being plastically kind. This is a matter of flattering with veiled desire to do someone ill.) Prov. 29:5 (Again, we are warned about empty flattery. In this case it can be someone setting a trap with words of praise. Do you ever praise others with subtle intent to trap? Is the hypocrisy of your empty flattery buried so deep it s difficult to see?)

IV. Concern: (Think of your sincerity in the area of being concerned about others.)
1. Must Care: Ezek. 3:18 (God requires us to take an interest in the souls of others. We must take an active enough interest to confront sin. In the spirit of this principle, it seems we would take an interest in other people s lives.)

2. Not Busybodies: I Pet. 4:15 (However, God forbids us to meddle in the business of other people. So how do we know when we are prodding too far? After all, a person could be sincere and still meddle in business not their own. Do you ever interfere with others and go too far? Do you sometimes cloak being nosy under a guise of concern? Are you really sincere in the concern you show for others?)

V. Friendships: (Think of your sincerity in the friends you choose and the friendships you spurn.)
1. Natural Preferences: I Sam. 18:1, I Sam. 19:2 (Jonathan and David had a natural bond between them. We all develop special bonds with some based on personal preferences and personalities. That is not wrong.)

2. Partiality Forbidden: Jas. 2:1-4 (However, we are forbidden to show partiality based on shallow concerns. Do you play favorites based on what people have rather than what they are? Do you claim to like some and dislike others on a legitimate basis while really being shallow? What is your criteria for sorting preferred friends from spurned acquaintances? Do you sort out relationships based on finances, social standing or other shallow concerns? Are you sincere in your treatment of others in choosing friends?)

VI. Morality: (Think of your sincerity in the area of your moral standards.)
1. Must Have Godly Morals: II Cor. 1:12 (Paul said he governed his conduct in sincerity. We must be sincere in holding to lofty moral standards.)

2. Not For Show: Mt. 6:1-3 (However, we are warned not to hold high standards for the sake of show. Do you hold high moral standards because that has become fashionable in your circle? Do you trumpet godly causes for ungodly pride? Are you sincere in your morals?)

Conclusion: Acts 2:46 (Early Christians lived their daily lives with singleness of heart. This points to a strong kind of sincerity. We must do the same. The above issues should help us all to question if we are sincere in our service to God.)