By Linda and Richard Eyre
Note: Each week this column provides a short essay on one particular aspect or facet of the Lord’s personality and character. It is intended that the reader focus on this facet while partaking of the sacrament this Sunday. (Click here to read full introductory column.) Review previous columns by going to the What Manner of Man Archives by clicking in the margin to the right.
Congruence is broadly defined as internal and external consistency – being honest with one’s self and honest with others. Any lack of internal or external honestly is a weakening factor – a darkening, eye-dropping loss of self. Almost every mortal lacks at least a degree of congruence, because virtually no mortal lives exactly as he knows he should, exactly as he would tell others to live.
Part of Christ’s incomparable personal magnetism and power came from his total congruence. He taught what He was. He was what He taught. He said what He felt. He felt what He said.
Many men understand the power that comes from saying: “What you see is what you get. I may not be perfect, but I am genuine. I am real. I do not pretend to be anything that I’m not.” Imagine for a moment the strength that would lie in being able to say (as Christ did): “I am truth. I am the example for all. Come, follow me.”
The purpose of Christ’s life was to bear witness of the truth (see John 18:37), the kind of pure truth that frees men’s minds from ignorance and error (see John 8:32). His strongest rebukes were directed toward the dishonestly of hypocrites (see Matthew 15:7-9, Isaiah 29:13-15). His standard of honestly was total.
He demanded honestly not only in words and deeds, but in the motives behind the words and deeds. He was not pleased when the right things were done for the wrong reasons – including fasting (see Matthew 6:16-18), prayer (see Matthew 6:5-6), and service (see Matthew 6:1-4). Another definition of congruence, then, would be doing the right things for the right reasons.
Christ knew and taught that nothing can ever be right in a man’s life if he is not sincere. Some lives look better outside than inside. We may compare such lives to a large paste diamond – they win admiration from others but are secretly despised by those that live them. Christ’s congruence gave Him the one thing more prized that the respect of others: the respect of self. Trying to win the approval of others can lead to insincerity unless the deeper motive is to be worth of God’s love and to with self-respect. The real secret lies deep within the heart (see Matthew 15:19-20, Luke 16:15).
Christ’s congruence gave His life a consistency that allowed Him to “do always those things that please [God]” (John 8:29), and which caused His Father to say, on virtually every recorded instance when man has heard Him speak: “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
To win that “in whom I am well pleased” stamp of approval is the ultimate goal of every Christian life. Congruence is a vital key to that goal. It is the kind of total honestly that the Savior constantly displayed.
Closing Note:Many have asked if it is possible to get all of the weekly “facets” or aspects of the Savior from this column in book form. We now have such a book, and we would like to give it as a gift to you loyal readers who have been with us for these many weeks. Just send a self- addressed, stamped, book-sized envelope (the padded ones are best) to us at 1098 Augusta Way, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84108 and we will send you a signed copy. (You will need to put $1.84 in stamps or postage on your return envelope.) Please respond only if you have been reading and following the column, and please do not ask for more than one copy of the book. We hope this gift will help you continue this idea, and that it will “link” us with as we think about the same facet together each Sunday. All our best, Richard and Linda Eyre
2005 Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.