In every normal person there is a longing to be somebody, to get somewhere, to amount to something.  In our first moments, we would like to be able to live our lives in such a fashion that at the end, those who know us best could look back and say, “He was a truly great man.  She was a truly great woman.”

 Jesus Himself talked about a quality of life that can be called true greatness and calls us each day to this greatness.  But we need to look closer at what that truly means and what that kind of living involves.

For a start, it is obvious that Jesus Himself believed there could be no greatness apart from sincerity.  We have to start with that because it is foundational to everything else.  Sincerity is a basic virtue, the        absence of which renders all other virtues null and void.  If a person is dishonest and deceitful at the very center of life, then nothing that he says or does can count for much.

Love, for example.  Who wants to be loved insincerely?  For that matter, what is insincere love?  The term is virtually inconceivable.  One had rather deal with sincere hatred than insincere love.  At least you would know where you stood.

You see the problem.  Insincerity takes the loveliest qualities of life and reduces them to nothing but worthless counterfeit.  Everything becomes a little game of “let’s pretend.”  To be a good person is not the issue; to make a good impression is the only thing that really matters.  This was the criticism that Jesus leveled at the scribes and Pharisees.  Not that they were sinners, all of us are that, but that they were actors, stage players, trying to create an illusion,  constantly trying to be something they were not.  Jesus summed it up by saying, “All of their works are performed to be seen.”  Even their good deeds were corrupted by the insincerity of their motive.

And surely it’s obvious that true greatness can never come from that kind of living.  How can you be a great person, a leader of family or government, and a phony, both at the same time?  Those two ideas tend to cancel out each other.  You can be one, or you can be the other, but you can never be both.  There is a touch of the hypocrite in all of us.  But at least we can face that fact and make an honest effort to be honest.  We must start with that and stay with that, because it’s essential to everything else.  We call it sincerity, and no life can ever be truly great without it. 

If you and I could believe that, we would become better men and women, better husbands and wives, better  human beings, and this old world would be a better place in which we live.