One of the most important lessons I observed as a young mother was the natural sincerity that young children possess. I discovered that it is an innate quality within them. They feel free to be honest and have no knowledge of, or interest in, deceit. And they spontaneously expect that in others. To me, this shows that sincerity’s opposite, hypocrisy, is a learned habit, and therefore is not a natural characteristic of any of us.
Sincerity goes far beyond being a nice characteristic that we all wish to see more of in ourselves, or in teachers, colleagues, and politicians; sincerity is our deep desire to be genuine and is based on our true, original nature, which is entirely good. This original nature comes from divine good itself – from God, the Father of us all. The Bible refers often to our relationship to God as His sons and daughters. As His offspring, we reflect the qualities of our creator. Sincerity is a divine quality, belonging to God’s goodness, and therefore it’s something that we each naturally express.
With this growing appreciation of what my children, and all children unaffectedly express, I recalled that Christ Jesus once said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” He continued, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.” And then he strengthened his point by taking up the children in his arms and blessing them (see Mark 10:1-16). Jesus is clearly telling us that we find God to be our loving Father as we seek Him with humility and sincerity – as naturally as a little child.
Speaking of the kingdom of heaven as a state of harmony, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote, “but this harmony is not understood unless it produces a growing affection for all good, and consequent disaffection for all evil, hypocrisy, evil-speaking, lust, envy, hate” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896” p. 337). As Jesus pointed out, it is never too late to value and put into practice our spiritual nature as children of our Father in heaven. At any age, we can put off destructive habits and characteristics, including hypocrisy, and increasingly discover the sincerity that is truly ours.
Wanting to follow the teachings of Christ, I made a concerted effort as a parent to keep tabs on how well I was demonstrating my own spiritual nature in daily life. Was I being sincere? I measured my own sincerity by never asking my children to do something I was unwilling to do myself. I understood that even for the smallest or most mundane task, to say one thing and do the opposite would be hypocritical. The old adage, “do as I say, not as I do,” would never help in nurturing and strengthening their God-given love for good. In fact, any parental example of hypocrisy would erode the very foundation of children’s budding understanding of their true nature, which expresses God. They would be wrongly identifying with dishonest and untrustworthy characteristics, rather than qualities of uprightness and honesty – qualities that form the basis of happy, responsible, and productive lives.
For instance, if I asked them to be more patient with each other while playing, I also made sure I was expressing that same patience with everyone in my life as well. If a proper sense of obedience was needed, I would check my own actions to make sure I was in line with obedience to God’s law of selfless love. This became a habit for all of us, and one which I continually am grateful to have learned early on in parenting.
This constant valuing of sincerity, I am convinced, enabled our children to develop into responsible and honest adults. They are trustworthy and sincere. But this wasn’t of my personal making; it was the divine power within them bringing out their sincere, childlike purity of thought. God’s love working within each of us causes us to be like our Father in heaven, to express sincerity, goodness, and honesty every moment and in all our relationships.