Sincerity of heart and purpose is character’s 10th and final command. But to properly heed it, you must already have embraced the others. See, for example:
- Outgrowing Natural Egocentricity
- Cultivating Healthy Self Worth
- Honest Self Reckoning
- Life Beyond the Pleasure Principle
So, in many ways, this is the hardest commandment to obey.
It behooves us to understand just what true sincerity of heart and purpose is all about. Contemplating the origins and meaning of the word sincerity provides a good start.
The word sincere comes from the Latin sin cera, meaning “without wax.” Now, there are many stories and traditions about how this phrase gave birth to our present meaning of the word. One of the leading ones involves peddlers of fine sculptures during the Renaissance era. Supposedly, they used wax to hide minor imperfections that would decrease the value of the piece. An artwork that was sin cera was well worth its price because of its authenticity. And personal authenticity is what the “10th commandment is really all about.
The 10th Commandment
Here, again, is the 10th commandment of sound character:
To the best of your ability, be of humble and sincere heart and purpose.
Falseness and Authenticity
Falseness comes in two varieties: conscious and unconscious. Most “neurotic” folks barely know their own sentiments let alone freely reveal them. That’s because they’ve spent a lifetime repressing them – keeping them out of conscious awareness. When they put on their masks, they don’t do so deliberately. In fact, they barely realize they’re hiding their more authentic self. And sometimes, deep yearnings in their hearts push hard for expression. But an unaccepting or hostile environment can make this a really scary prospect. This is the root of all anxiety. (A fear we can identify is called a phobia.)
The falseness of most disturbed characters is another matter entirely. Their lack of genuineness has a purpose: to gain advantage over or take advantage of you! And they know very well what they’re doing. It’s all part of the game of deception and manipulation. They may turn on the charm to seduce you. And they may act as though they really care. But most of the time their intentions are not pure. And purity of intention is what sincerity of purpose is all about. (See, also: pp. 48-50 in Character Disturbance.)
Sincerity of heart and purpose means that one’s intentions are truly loving. That’s what makes the command to love others in the manner as we would love ourselves so foundational. When we’re of sincere heart and purpose we harbor no hidden agendas. We’re not out to get something in a slimy, underhanded, or undeserving way. (See: pp. 16-21 in In Sheep’s Clothing.) And we’re not out to exploit or take advantage. Instead, we’re out to advance the cause of life. And we do so for our own benefit as well as the overall the well-being of all.
Cultivating a Sincere Heart
Getting our hearts in the right place is a lifetime enterprise. But it’s our most important task. It’s been famously said that nothing we take into our awareness has the power to defile us. But what emanates from our hearts can certainly reveal the state of our character. In the coming weeks I’ll be discussing how all of the prior commandments work together to help us cultivate a sincere.
Remember, you can access all the podcasts of Character Matters on Youtube. And I’ll be announcing when the new podcast-based program will be premiering in just a few weeks.