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Chapter 6 - All that Glitters is not Gold.
And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. - Luke 12:15
Jesus gave this warning to a man who was concerned for his inheritance. The warning exposes another aspect of the deceitfulness of riches. Contrasting the number of things that one possesses with oneís own life. Here one can see that a desire for things can lead a person to lose sight of the value of his own life.
In touching on the subject of value, Jesus describes the ultimate accounting;
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? - Mark 8:36
While possessions have the ability to assuage anxieties and provide comforts, in the end they all pass away. True riches would be that which one can carry with them into eternity.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. - 1 John 2:17
The word 'drugs' is generally taken to mean those families of chemicals that can be used to produce a specific effect in people. In medical practice, this is usually some therapeutic effect. However, in the larger world, the sensations of pleasure or just mind numbing tranquility have such a value that almost any price will be paid for even the brief short term effect they produce.
Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. - Proverbs 23:29
The consequences of alcohol are well known. Yet people still pursue it. How much more will people entangle themselves in the pursuit of riches, when the negative consequences are far less discernable. If we consider again Paulís words to Timothy;
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. - 1 Timothy 6:10
The apparent mixed metaphor of falling into a snare and drowning may be better understood as a sequence of events. Beginning with a desire, temptations are encountered which entangle like a snare. This is compounded by lusts which lead to destruction and perdition so complete as to be seen as being covered such as with burial or drowning. This process has two components 'temptations' and 'lusts' that accelerate one down a path whose end is 'destruction'. It could be seen as similar to one who falls into quicksand.
It is interesting that it is not just greed or the desire to be rich that drives this destructive process. The 'many lusts' that are spawned from this essentially compound the destructive forces that can take someone almost as a captive to his destruction. Frequently the desire for power, fame, and prominence work in parallel with greed.
It is interesting that these corruptive dynamics do not require wealth, just the desire for it. It can be seen in anyone. For example, from someone who might participate in a pyramid scheme, buy a lottery ticket, make a hostile takeover of a corporation, or rob a liquor store.
An example of a destructive 'lust' that might seem disconnected from greed could be the destructive characteristics of a narcissist (the desire to control others, have everyone 'respect' him, or acknowledge his 'superiority'). The emergence of additional lusts can confuse the identification of the original triggering lust for riches.
The integrity of the upright shall guide them, but the willful contrariness and crookedness of the treacherous shall destroy them. - Proverbs 11:3
The Christian has the opportunity to avail himself of resources such as wisdom, discernment, knowledge of truth, and the very Spirit of God to guide his path. Those given over to the desires of the flesh are like a blind man on a precipice.
It is not just riches (things that glitter) that can seduce a Christian on a destructive path. He can be flattered, drawn into pride so that he thinks he is doing 'Godís work', or convinced (like the Pharisees) that he has achieved righteousness through his own accomplishments.
For the Christian, the key to not being seduced by various lusts is the ability to see truth. The key to being able to see truth is humility.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. - Luke 18:13
Humility allows God to fill us with grace.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. - James 4:6
Freedom (including freedom from destructive lusts) comes from truth.
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. - John 8:31-32
When we can look at ourselves and the world through the filter of truth, things that 'glitter' (even gold) become less attractive as we can understand the real cost of such things. We do not need a bigger car, and fancy house, or the best schools. Rather we need the love of Christ to wash away our sins and to trust in his provision.
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