viernes, 21 de septiembre de 2007


I hate, like at the doors of death, the man that says a thing, ¡but hides another in his heart! (Achilles in Homer’s Iliad)

If we consider that Homer wrote The Iliad around the VIII Century before Christ, we can realize that sincerity is appreciated since old times and that hypocrisy is not an invention of our days.

In the old Rome, potters did their best trying to imitate the high quality of their Greek counterparts, but they couldn’t achieve it because they utilized materials of inferior quality. When placed in the furnace, many pots cracked. Roman potters, instead of rejecting such vessels, filled the cracks with wax and then painted them. The faulty pots were placed alongside the good ones as if they were of a good quality and the clients bought them without suspecting. When the pots were put to the fire, however, the wax melted and the bad quality of the job was discovered. As consequence, the people selling pots began to use the expression sin cere ("without wax" in latin) to distinguish quality pots from the faulty ones.

According to the dictionary, the word sincerity has three meanings, that rather than independent, are complementary: 1. Frankness of mind and intention. 2. Freedom of hypocrisy. 3. Authenticity.

Have you noticed that there are persons that seem to have forgotten us, and that one day they visit us or call us just “to say hello”? After some casual chat we discover that besides "saying hello," they needed money, they wanted to sell a product, or required something special of ourselves. Independently of how that particular conversation ends, we remain with a feeling of discomfort by the lack of frankness of such persons.

Sincerity is to go to the central point in order to express clearly the essence of the matter without manipulative or dishonest argumentations, avoiding detours and excess of words that intend to convince by sheer quantity. Granted, to speak sincerely is not a mere question of word reduction in a conversation, but to promote a clear and assertive communication. Neither should we confuse frankness with cruelty or roughness. We must be able, for example, to use euphemisms for delicate situations. An euphemism is a way to express with care an uncomfortable thought. Some would say of whom passed away: "he is already resting." Such an expression shows sensibility, which is an adequate balance for sincerity.

The sincerity should also be balanced with deference. Deference is "to limit our liberty in order to not offend the senses of those around us." Instead of letting our opinions be an unnecessary fountain of irritation for others, we should be aware of how to express our points of view in relation to those of the others. The deference isn’t about forfeiting the truth, neither to use “little white lies”, but to go as far as possible to live in peace with the ones that surround us.

When was the last time that you bought a product that didn’t turn out to be like the one promoted by a specific ad? How did you feel? When we aren’t sincere, we are guilty of the same thing: we raise a false expectation, an attractive exterior appearance of a negative situation, product or fact. Sincerity is to use the precise words to expose all (visible or hidden) of what we want to say or promote.

Sincerity is also to practice what is preached. Either at home, at our neighborhood, or at the office, sincerity is to faithfully act in agreement to what we speak and to live accordingly in all areas of our life. Nothing exhibits more clearly the insincere motives like to say one thing and do another. For example, if we are trying to advise our teenager upon the risks of the alcohol and he sees us arriving home drunken, we are denying the validity of our words.

Julius Caesar was very brilliant in many areas of his life: administration, statesmanship, military, etc.., but he had also many ambitions and lacked scruples when selecting the ways to achieve promotions. For example, he got married for political connections and got divorced when new families arrived to power. He did many alliances, but many were insincere. At the end, the deceitful methods of Julius Caesar were used against him because he was stabbed to death among acquaintances and "friends."

Perhaps if Julius Caesar would have been authentic, sincere, most of his life, would have been in the position to say that was unfair the treason he was object. Going through life with a mask has the inconvenience that people relates to the mask and doesn’t know the person behind it. That’s what happens when we aren’t sincere: we remain isolated or even worse, we are betrayed, because the people around us never related to the real person.

Perhaps we don’t have the answer to all the questions, all the conflicts, or all the problems, but, following Elihu´s (the friend of Job) example, we should always be sincere: My words declare the uprightness of my heart, and what my lips know they speak sincerely (Job 33:3).

Sincerity, at the end, is to reveal with words and works what is in the heart.

lunes, 10 de septiembre de 2007

Fines to Unfaithful Colombians

The News:
Colombians that after got married seek to have an affaire should think it twice, because could be expensive if a legislative proposal advances in Congress… Senator Edgar Espindola presented a government bill that seeks to punish with fines and common sanctions to unfaithful spouses, in order to recuperate marriage values and to avoid broken homes that affect children. "I aspire that… this project will motivate to a great reflection to everybody… of the importance of marriage, of the importance of home, of the importance of family"… The project contemplates fines of… about four thousand dollars, to the passionate lawbreaker … Also it would be sanctions as working during weekends in social homes of abandoned children and in rest clinics where find help those who have been affected by a loving treason… Espindola said that persons affected will be able to denounce their unfaithful couples with evidences such as photographs… But the legislator considered that offenders will be able to escape from punishment if they are forgiven by their spouse. (

Perhaps I shouldn’t be asking irrelevant questions in this case because could lead to a morbid situation, but there is a couple of them that I can’t resist. Please promise not to get distracted from the central point that is the criticism of adultery. Who pays the four thousand dollars? Because there isn’t a single lawbreaker, but two. Half and half? How much it would remain to the victim (after paying the detective that obtained the photos, the lawyer that presented the case, the therapist, and other expenses incurred during the process)? I doubt that would remain any quantity at all.

The idea is praiseworthy (to protect the marriage), but I’m not sure about the way to do it. Fines for the adulterer! Although the quantity can be substantial for the medium citizen, the format degrades the concept of the marital union. Let’s consider the case of Roberto (a married Colombian citizen with Mary) that is being attracted by Lily (a secretary at his office). Mary at the house calls Roberto’s attention toward the economic needs of the home, the conflicts with the small children, bad attitudes of the teenager, etc. Mary loves Roberto, but the pressures at home, the excess activities, the conflicts with the family, the lack of a proper budget for new clothes, etc.., make her not to dress beautifully for Roberto when he arrives from work every night. On the other hand, the young Lily arrives at the office every day with a perfect make-up, provocatively dressed, nicely scented and with a smile in the lips that betrays the natural lack of worries among single people.

Roberto begins to elaborate ideas of adultery. His attentions to the young Lily make her turn her head toward him. Having lived many years with Mary, Roberto knows some aspects that can impress women and employs them "only" to see how the young lady responds. One good day, Roberto it’s onthe brink to complete the adultery. And what has he in mind?

First, that he should be sufficiently smart not to be discovered. That is, he should plan everything carefully (although we already saw in a previous delivery that is very complicated to hide an affaire: "Florist Betrays Unfaithful Husband").

Second, what would be the consequences of his actions? If he doesn’t have a good knowledge of God, which seems feasible upon having arrived to this point, the only consideration remaining is if he would be able to pay the fine, that is, a mere economic thought.

And that’s the risk, to reduce the matter of a sin to God to a material issue measured in dollars. It shouldn’t work like that. The fear of God is priceless. Yes I know that the last phrase sounds like the famous promotional credit card campaign:

"Adultery: $4,000 dollars,
"fornication: $3,000 dollars,
"lust: $1,000 dollars,
"gluttony: $500 dollars, etc.."

We simply can’t establish a scale of prices.

What Does the Bible Says:
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.

(John 8:3-11)

Note that Jesus didn’t say: "Pay four thousand silver coins!" He didn’t come to abrogate the Law, but to fulfill it.

According to the news "… offenders will be able to escape from punishment if they are forgiven by their spouse." I love this part, but it’s incomplete. It should add: after being repented and being forgiven by Jesus. Only Jesus is able to restore a damaged marriage. It would be better of course if we add Jesus to the marriage on time. A marriage with Jesus has more probabilities to be stable, to last, and to be happy. Though divorces among Christian marriages exist, those tend to be the exception, as are also the exception the happy marriages among couples that have not invited Jesus to their lives.

If you are married, don’t try to prove that your marriage is one of those few that can survive without Jesus. Go for sure and invite Him to your life!

lunes, 3 de septiembre de 2007

Small Dog Inherits Millions

The News:
The small Maltese of the polemic real state mogul Leona Helmsley, who passed away… will continue living an opulent life, while two of the four grandchildren of the woman, whose avarice was proverbial, did not receive anything as inheritance… Helmsley, who was the owner of a luxury hotel chain, imprisoned by fiscal evasion and nicknamed "the queen of the wickedness" because her famous arrogant and insensitive statements, left to her beloved white Maltese called Trouble a fund of 12 million dollars… her will establishes that when Trouble pass away, be placed next to her in the mausoleum… Helmsley and her husband, Harry, controlled a real state emporium valued in 5,000 million dollars including the Empire State Building. She had a lawsuit in 1989 for fiscal evasion in a famous process in which former employees described her like a tyrant that tormented both workers and executives. In a certain moment one of the former employees mentioned that she once declared: "People like us don’t pay taxes. Only the low class pays taxes"… (

It happens to be that in our home we have a Maltese (I don’t think that it’s pure, and never we will know for sure, because one day it just appeared at the door and we adopt it in order to save it from the doghouse, but according to photos, it’s the race that resembles the most), and although we love it, is not going to receive a single dollar of inheritance. In any case, what is going to do a millionaire puppy? To buy imported dog food? To buy a collar with diamond incrustations? To buy bones of Argentinian veal?

The small dog already lost what were the most important things for it, assuming that it’s like any other dog: the walks with its owner and the caresses that surely she provided. Why would want a dog 12 million dollars?

Nobody of course is envying the small animal (I hope). Still sometimes the humans feel a certain secret desire for inheriting that quantity (even a million dollars could do), but when we think it twice, it isn’t important. To dare inherit her dog, this lady evidently had conflicts with her relatives and she chastised them with her testament. The money served as a source of conflict. And that seems to be a tragic constant.

The news says that she was a "… tyrant that tormented both workers and executives." It seems that her relatives were not the only ones that didn’t loved her. Is it worth to forge a fortune that way? Generating so many grudges around her, could she be happy?

And the jewel of her statements: "People as us don’t pay taxes. Only the low class pays taxes." For her information, that perhaps she doesn’t need anymore, the King of Kings paid taxes. Fair or unfair, we cannot go through life evading taxes or any other obligation established by the authorities.

What does the Bible says:
When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”
He said, “Yes.”
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”
Peter said to Him, “From strangers.”
Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.”
(Matthew 17:24-27)

Jesus emphasized that He didn’t have to pay (unfair tax), however He did it. So we don’t have to seek for excuses or speak badly of the authorities, if Jesus paid, it doesn’t matter how aristocratic or low social class we feel, we should pay our obligations.

And besides, based on the story of the news, the part that we take away from our fellow citizens by not paying taxes is going to be eaten by a puppy as dog food and fine bones.