These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the book of James. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.

Have you ever had someone apologize to you and you knew they weren’t sincere? They said they right things, but they didn’t mean it. How does it make you feel when someone has been nice to you and you thought they liked you, but you find out later they weren’t simply wanting something from you? God’s Word addresses all this. God wants you to be that person who is sincere in their actions and words. God wants you to be that person who doesn’t pretend toward others, but who actually cares, loves, and has genuine compassion and interest in others.

The subject of being sincere with others may not sound that important, significant or spiritually deep at first glance, but once you start looking at what God’s Word says about being sincere you quickly realize that God takes this seriously. What we are going to see today is that God’s wisdom when lived out expresses itself in the form of sincerity.

We are in a series of lessons on wisdom. We have been dissecting James 3 and what God’s Word tells us about natural wisdom (the kind without God) and heavenly wisdom (God’s Wisdom). No matter who you are, you are navigating your life using one of those wisdoms. James is trying to help us understand and apply God’s wisdom to our life.  With that said let’s take a look at James 3:13 where we are told, If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness (NLT). James gives us 8 marks that identify God’s wisdom in action. We have already looked at the first seven.

Today’s main truth is God’s wisdom produces sincerity. This says, “If I’m wise, I will not pretend to be someone I’m not.” In verse 17 we are told that “the wisdom from above is… always sincere.” Some translations describe this as “without pretense” (CSB) or “without hypocrisy” (NASB). When God’s wisdom is operating in your life you are going to be more sincere, you will have less pretense about you, and the hypocrisy in your life will decrease. Because you still struggle with sin you will find insincerity, pretense, and hypocrisy popping up in your life from time to time. However, because you are growing spiritually and becoming more and more like Christ you will find yourself being more confident in what you believe and more confident in who you are as a follower of Jesus. As your confidence in who you are in Christ grows you will discover it becomes easier to be sincere, genuine, and honest with others. Just like Jesus was.

Remember, we are talking about God’s kind of wisdom demonstrating and expressing itself through our lives in the form of sincerity. Let’s make sure we are understanding what God’s Word is telling us here about sincerity. To understand this word “sincere” (anupokritos) we need to understand three things.

  • Sincerity is the quality of being free from pretense, hypocrisy, and deceit. It’s a mixture of seriousness and kind honesty. If you do things with sincerity people will trust you. Along with patience and compassion, sincerity is one of those qualities we all probably wish we had more of — and wish other people had more of, too. People who show sincerity are being serious, kind, and truthful. What you see is what you get.

During Bible times you had all types of shops selling all types of pottery for various uses. Pottery you eat out of, drink out of, store things in, or cook with. The pottery industry was big business. Occasionally, a person who sold pottery would have one get cracked for some reason or slightly broken and they would use wax to put the pieces back together or to hide the crack. Then they would paint over it. If someone were to buy that pottery and place it over a fire or place something hot in it, then the wax would melt and the pottery would fall apart or the crack would be revealed. The actual origin of the word “sincere” means to be “without hidden cracks.” As sincere believers, we are not to hide our cracks (wait a minute, that didn’t sound right).

Look at Proverbs 27:6 which says, “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (NLT). Wounds from a sincere friend occur because they will tell you the truth. You can trust them. There is no hidden agenda. There are no hidden cracks in their motives for telling you what you need to hear, even if it hurts. You need those kinds of friends in your life and you need to be that kind of friend for others. You cannot grow very much without sincere friends in your life.

  • Pretense. This is an attempt to make something appear true that is not, for the purpose of deception. When you operate under a pretense, you are not being honest. You are pretending. If you say you are going to a party because you are eager to see your friend, but really you are just interested in the birthday cake, you are acting on pretense. You pretend to like someone in order to get information from them. You pretend to love them so they will do something for you. You pretend to be an expert when you are not. You pretend to care when you don’t in order to get something from them. There is a fine line between loving your enemy and pretending to love your enemy. God wants you to actually love them.

Look at Romans 12:9 which says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good” (NLT).

  • This is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. Pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you don’t really have. You say you believe in God, but there is nothing about your life that supports what you say. You say you are a follower of Jesus, but you don’t really believe Him. Hypocrisy disguises reality.

Look at what 1 Peter 2:1 says, “So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness” (NLT).

When you are living by the wisdom of God, His wisdom will help you deal with the pretense and hypocrisy in your life. As a result you will be more sincere, lovingly honest, and genuine with yourself and others.

The word here for “sincere” (anupokritos) was used to refer to something without hidden cracks, but it was also a Greek word that was used in the theatre during Bible times. Actors would often play several parts in a play. When they were playing the villain they would wear one mask or when they were playing the hero they would wear a different mask. Sometimes these actors would wear seven different masks in one play. These actors were called hypocrites. This eventually made its way into normal society and those who pretended to be something or someone they were not, became known as hypocrites. They were not sincere. They were not who they appeared to be. God wants you to be real, genuine, and sincere.

With that understanding I want to show you three truths about sincerity. There was a group of believers who lived in Corinth. They were a messed up church. There was a lot of deceit, division, and hypocrisy going on within that church body. Paul, one of the church leaders at the time wrote two letters addressing some of their problems and sins. Throughout these letters you find sincerity popping up several times. I want to show you three statements about sincerity that give us insight and understanding about the power and need for sincerity in our lives. This is going to be quick, but I do want to introduce you to these.

Sincerity produces a clear conscience

Number one, sincerity produces a clear conscience. Take a look at what 2 Corinthians 1:12 says, “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings. We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own human wisdom. That is how we have conducted ourselves before the world, and especially toward you” (NLT). One of the reasons many believers struggle with a guilty conscience is because we haven’t learned how to be “sincere in all our dealings” and as a result we wrestle with the hypocrisy or pretense in our lives. However, as we learn to walk in God’s wisdom and treat people without hypocrisy and pretense, but in sincerity our conscience becomes clear.

Sincerity comes from an awareness of God

Number two, sincerity comes from an awareness of God. Look at 2 Corinthians 2:17 which says, “You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us” (NLT). It was true then and it is true now, there are people who teach the Word of God strictly for money. They see it as an easy way to manipulate people out of their money so they can gain wealth. There were “hucksters” then and there are “hucksters” today. However, Paul’s point is that he was teaching the Word of God out of sincerity – there was no pretense or hidden agenda behind his teaching. His sincerity was driven by the knowledge of “knowing that God [was] watching [him].” When you are keenly aware of the presence of God and the knowledge of His presence affects your life, you will be driven to be sincere in all your dealings with people.

Sincerity can help others trust you

Number three, sincerity can help others trust you. Look at 2 Corinthians 6:3 which says, “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love” (NLT). To “prove” something means to demonstrate the truth or authenticity of something. As you go through life, especially times of difficulty, and you walk through it with sincerity (no pretense, no hypocrisy) people are able to see that you are who you say you are. You are the real thing, a genuine follower of Christ, a real friend.


So we have been talking about God’s wisdom expressed in the form of sincerity. If you live according to God’s plan for your life you will grow in sincerity. You will become more lovingly honest and your motives will be where God wants them to be. Philippians 1:9 says this, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, 10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (NKJV). The world and others, intentionally or unintentionally, will pressure you to be who you are not, to say what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear, and they will try to keep you from walking in the wisdom of God and in sincerity. Part of God’s plan for your life is to bring sincerity into your relationships. You cannot control others, but you can control you.

Marks of Heavenly Wisdom


If I’m wise I will not compromise my integrity

“first of all pure”

Peace loving

If I’m wise I will not

antagonize your anger

“it is also peace loving”


If I’m wise I will not

minimize your feelings

“gentle at all times”


If I’m wise I will not

criticize your suggestions

“willing to yield to others”


If I’m wise I will not

emphasize your mistakes

“full of mercy”


If I’m wise I will not

waste my life

“full of… the fruit of good deeds”


If I’m wise I will not

treat you unequally

“It shows no favoritism”


If I’m wise I will not

pretend to be someone I’m not

“and is always sincere”

Based on James 3:17