The following passage is part of a Sunday School Bible lesson taught by Eric Liddell in China.
"[Sincere] means genuine, honest, and free from hypocrisy-- the real thing. And it comes from two Latin words: sine--without, and sere--wax. Without wax? What's that got to do with anything? Well, I'll tell you.
"Many years ago in the time of the Roman Empire marble was a very popular, beautiful stone. Large slabs were cut out of the ground and skilled craftsmen shaped them into pillars, statues, vases, and many beautiful things. Sometimes if the marble was of inferior quality it would develop a crack and consequently become of little value.
"To avoid losing income, some unscrupulous craftsmen would fill the crack with wax, smooth it off, then polish the surface to a high gloss and pass it off as an unblemished piece. Unfortunately, at a later date, the wax would shrink and split and the unfortunate purchaser would realize that he had a worthless piece of marble on his hands.
"Buyers eventually got wise to the fraud, and when purchasing anything made of marble, they demanded assurance that the product was the real thing, namely pure marble without hidden flaws or imperfections filled with wax. The real thing: sine--without; sere--wax. From this we get our English word 'sincere'-- being in reality as it is in appearance--real--honest.
"Now then, boys and girls, what about you?
"Are you the real thing? Or do you have some flaws or cracks that you think you have successfully hidden from others?"
-Eric Liddell: Pure Gold by David McCasland, pages 141-142