FIRST-PERSON: Beware of fool's gold

by Ray Parascando, posted Wednesday, May 18, 2016 (one year ago)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (BP) -- There is this common saying that all that glitters is not gold. In searching for gold, people usually come across its counterfeit, called pyrite.

Pyrite glitters like gold and is easier to find, usually in the same region where there are gold deposits. Its discovery can spark hope of becoming a millionaire, but it is short-lived. Sudden disillusionment will set in when a goldsmith reports that it is not gold that has been discovered, but fool's gold.

We can avoid this agony by learning how to test whether what glitters is real gold or pyrite. One method is to rub your discovery on the rough side of a ceramic tile. If the glittering remains, then you have discovered real gold. But if it leaves a black streak, you have fool's gold.

This same process should be applied to our beliefs about God, particularly when it comes to seeking prosperity. Some preachers have become New York Times best-selling authors with books assuring that financial and medical blessing is God's will for every Christian. This reality is possible, they say, for those who speak it into existence and believe.

Be careful not to fall for the glitter that it projects.

As you rub the principles of the prosperity gospel against God's Word, it quickly becomes black. God never promised that every person who claims to be a Christian would be financially independent if they just adopt prosperity gospel teachings.

When Jesus spoke of "asking, seeking and knocking," it was in the context of His Kingdom message of trusting God, not the system that the religious leaders were profiting from. Whenever Jesus discussed riches, it carried an eternal perspective. Taking a holistic view of the Scriptures, discussing financial blessing without connecting it to God's greater Kingdom plan is to teach outside the will of God.

Seek what God is interested in doing in your life. As we get closer to God, we will realize that His desire is to bless according to His purposes and in His time. The focus is God, not cars, promotions, boats or other non-essentials.

God wants to bless your humble prayers. Instead of yearning for earthly riches, ask for heavenly blessings such as wisdom. This is the type of prayer that God honors. It is how King Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 3:9: "So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"

God had given Solomon a blank check for his prayers. He could have asked for more power, more possessions and more pleasure. Instead, Solomon asked for wisdom, which became the noble hallmark of his life.

Praying for wisdom is your best prayer for raising your family, advancing in your career goals, dealing with relationship drama, finding ways to pay the bills, investing your money, getting out of debt or even buying something new like a car. Asking God for wisdom will also serve as that necessary "selfish filter" which we all need.

Focusing on God prospering your soul doesn't mean you can't ask Him for needs and even some righteous wants. He desires to provide for His people. The apostle Paul, after encouraging the church at Philippi on contentment, reminded them in their time of poverty to trust and wait on God's provisions. "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus," Paul wrote in Philippians 4:19.

If you're asking with the right heart and the right focus, the Spirit will filter out the nonsense. Pray expecting God to provide but do so without trusting in your own power to "make" or "cause" God to answer. Pray with confidence balanced with humility. This will help you know the difference between false gold and God's gold for your life.

Ray Parascando is pastor of Crossroads Church in Staten Island, N.Y.
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