The word for “sincere” in Italian is sincero. “Sin” means “to be without.” “Cero” is the Italian word for wax. It was a term used in the practice of pottery. Artisans would mold a vessel out of clay and place it into a kiln in which the clay would harden under intense heat. Cracks would often form in the vessels as they were pulled from the heat into the cooler air outside of the kiln. Rather than waste time, energy and artistry, the artisan would apply wax to the cracks and smooth surface of the vessel. This prevented the vessel from cracking further by acting as a bonding agent, but also to create the illusion of wholeness for the vessel once the finishing layer was applied.
People are not much different. We dress ourselves up in fine clothes and smiling faces and obscure our brokenness from the world around us. We prefer the illusion of wholeness to the reality of brokenness. This is a theme that God himself in speaking of sinful humanity:
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.2 Corinthians 4:6-7
Ours is the darkness. His is the light. He gives us the light of salvation made known to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ through the Gospel of Peace. What’s interesting in this brief anecdote is that the wax we use to conceal imperfection obscures any light from passing through the obvious cracks. It promotes the false notion that the vessel is whole in and of itself. In other words, when we choose to be insincere, pretending that we are not broken when we are, we place a devastating illusion on display. Falsely, we place ourselves on display as something to be admired. However, if we choose to be sincere and authentic, we place our true selves on display appropriately, allowing the light of Christ will be seen in and through our brokenness. One is not drawn to the cracks, but rather the light that glows from within the vessel. Indeed, what makes such vessel beautiful is the light and warmth that emanates from its center.