Words of Worth

“Without Wax”

April 25, 2014

without wax

 “Love must be sincere.”

Romans 12:9a

It must not have been an easy task for a housewife in ancient times to pick out a quality piece of pottery. Imagine the housewife browsing the original pottery barns for just the right vessel and then returning home happy with her selection. Then imagine her unwinding from her shopping spree by making herself a nice cup of hot tea to try out her newly purchased clay pot only to find out it was flawed because as soon as she poured herself a nice cup of Tetley, the cup began leaking! How could that be? It could be because the clay pot was not sine cera or “without wax”. The housewife’s hot tea melted the wax in her inauthentic pottery.

As the stories go in the Roman world, it wasn’t unusual for pottery to crack after being placed in an oven to cure. A well respected potter would inspect his pottery after firing, and if any cracks were found, the vessel would be discarded and he would start over. Of course, this would increase the price and value of the piece of pottery. Less reputable potters would rub wax into the cracks and then paint over the imperfections and blemishes and pass off their pottery as perfect but sell it for cheaper prices than the fine quality pottery. Once the strategy behind the trading wars was found out, the honorable pottery merchants placed signs over their stores and on their pottery bearing the phrase- sine cera—meaning, in Latin, without wax. It is the same idea in modern retail where products are stamped as “authentic” or “genuine”.

Some debate the truth of the ancient pottery stories, however, the idea of being sincere, or, “without wax” in our personal lives holds water!

According to our modern definition, “sincere” implies an absence of pretense or hypocrisy and an adherence to truth. This sincerity is usually thought of in the context of our words and the sincerity of our words is judged by the motive behind them. For example, giving genuine encouragement and praise is sincere while telling people what we think they want to hear in an attempt to make them like us or think highly of us is considered insincere.

The highest compliment we can pay another person is sincerity. It is possible to give an honest appraisal without being rude. Speaking the truth in love is the foundation of strong interpersonal relationships. If we wax over our words in order to appear to be what we think others would like to see, we will only promote further mistrust when the wax eventually melts and our insincerity is shown.

Love must be sincere” (Romans 12:9 a). Mean what you say, say what you mean, and don’t be mean saying it!


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