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How to Embrace Sincerity and Compassion in an Age of Cynicism

How to Embrace Sincerity and Compassion in an Age of Cynicism

How to Embrace Sincerity and Compassion in an Age of Cynicism

What beauty we find when we interact with people who shine with sincerity. Sadly, it is hard to find people who take the time to listen and be present, the rare person who don’t seem enslaved to an agenda, and those who see the gift in the people who surround them. Instead trolls hiding in the underbelly of the internet, souls looking for validation that they belong, and people clinging to independence to stave off the loneliness, flood our path.

In this cynical age, the Christian must be willing to travail against the tide. As followers of Christ we must not drown in despair, but rest in the precepts of our savior. Colossians 3:12 tells us who we are and what should be evident in our lives. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” In a cynical world sincerity and compassion are radical ideals, and it is easier to talk about the virtues of these characteristics than to live them out. How do we as followers of Jesus - humanity perfected - remain more like him and less like the world?

These tips will help even the most calloused cynic become courageously compassionate.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Church of the King

1. Do Not Fear Cultural Changes

1. Do Not Fear Cultural Changes

Most people are uncomfortable with change, especially change outside of their control; but it cannot be avoided. People grow, time moves on, and culture shifts. As we age, we can grow weary from adapting to the world and become embittered. This bitterness can become unyielding, and the transitions of life begin to fuel anxiety. But we should not fear, and we should not be surprised to see culture moving further and further away from God. Instead we can move forward with bold sincerity and keep our eyes on the God who conquers evil.

Matt Chandler encourages believers by reminding us that “The Lord will not become a slave to our cultural assumptions or demands. He’s just too big for that.” There is no reason for panic. We need not let our eyes linger on the smallness of man’s opinion when God’s truth waits in power on the other side of weak philosophy and temporal pleasure. Christians holding to the word of God will maintain unpopular opinions by the world’s standards.

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<i>"...you do not belong to the world..."</i>

"...you do not belong to the world..."

Jesus, the most compassionate of us all, made this clear, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.John 15:19 The world may hate us, but we serve a God who so loved the people in this world that he entered into it humbly, he loved them compassionately, and he sacrificed for them anyway offering the greatest gift anyone can offer—himself.

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2. Refuse to Exchange the Value of Imago Dei for Ideology

2. Refuse to Exchange the Value of Imago Dei for Ideology

If we want to be sincere we must see. We must see the human behind the screen, behind the desk, across the dinner table. We cannot sacrifice the value of Imago Dei (Image of God) for ideology. Economic and political ideology is a weak god that will fail its followers, but Jesus offers truth that sets people free. We should not be hesitant to engage the culture, and we can do it in productive ways. Ways which honor Jesus, not out of our own desires to be right or seen as powerful, but in ways that show a hurting world redemption is possible.

James 4:1-2 reflects on the source of the constant conflict we witness, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight...”

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Rokas Niparavicius

"The audacity we sometimes display when we use our language to swipe and scratch at those who God created in his image is astounding."

"The audacity we sometimes display when we use our language to swipe and scratch at those who God created in his image is astounding."

If we idolize our own ideas over the truths of God, we spread death - not life. If we choose to debate with words that tear down, in the process we dehumanize and tear at the dignity of those on the opposing side. The audacity we sometimes display when we use our language to swipe and scratch at those who God created in his image is astounding.

When we are called to speak, we should speak, but “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 Refuse to take scripture out of context to prove a point. Do not speak harshly but extend wisdom (Proverbs 15:1-2). Maintaining this hospitable heart is vital to our ability to love sincerely. See the image of a Holy God, no matter how hidden, in those who challenge you and honor it with grace.

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3. Choose Empathy Over Offense

3. Choose Empathy Over Offense

The invitation to be offended awaits us each day. The rise of social media gives us immediate access to information and the ever-growing population of the world. In this reality, the temptation is always waiting in the wings. It is lurking in the shadows of our smart devices, calling as we merge into traffic, and hollering from the headlines. There are opinions and actions that come into conflict with what we believe to be true, and we take it personally much too often. Our propensity to find fault has led society to build walls and burn bridges as individuals seek to protect the little kingdoms they attempt to lord over. Proverbs 18:19s says that “A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.” When we cling to offense, we allow our hearts to harden.

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"We must...make room for opinions different than our own."

"We must...make room for opinions different than our own."

People who toss out explosive words usually craft them from the shrapnel left behind in their own heart. Therefore, we take the words of Ephesians 4:32 with us, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.Candace Cameron Bure says, “When you think about it, we’re all looking for a bit of simple kindness. We have a deep desire for empathy—some little sign that another person can imagine walking in our shoes.”

We must take the time to reflect on why another person may have spoken sharply, and make room for opinions different than our own. When we choose to try and view life from another’s perspective, we become less frightened by the world. In the letting-go of postures of offense and the embracing of empathy we begin to soften our own hearts, and the hearts of others.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Aaron Burden

4. Wait with Hope

4. Wait with Hope

Then we wait. We wait for God to move, to work, to knit together the broken pieces of a nation that has accepted numbness and cynicism as norms. We stop looking at the world and we look to God who was, and is, and always will be.

Ann Swindell encourages the weary soul with these words, “Soon the Great Physician will come, and he will reset every broken bone. He will heal every pain and restore every brokenness. He will renew our strength and wipe away every tear. He will fulfill all of our longings through his wonderful grace. He will make us whole.”

The people of God are not called to be cynics. They are called to be like Christ who when faced with troubling times retreated into prayer, who experienced torture and still chose grace, and changed the world by doing the will of his Father. As the world continues to move toward defeatism, we hold to the reality that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37).

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"We are those who believe that Heaven awaits."

"We are those who believe that Heaven awaits."

Christians are those who know this time in history is but a blip on the radar of eternity. We are those who believe that Heaven awaits, and stand against whatever Hell may throw at us in the meantime. With eternity in view we remain sincere and we are moved with compassion because we know redemption. We know the one who can turn a heart of stone into flesh and put a new spirit within us (Ezekiel 36:26).

Chara Donahue is a freelance writer who is working on her first book. She enjoys doing biblical counseling, speaking to women, and savoring coffee when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds an MSEd from Corban University, is passionate about seeing people set free through God's truths, and is the founder and editor of Anchored Voices. Get in touch with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jake Givens