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Brass for Gold?

Can you tell the difference between a diamond and a cubic zirconia? Butter and margarine? Sugar and Saccharin? Sometimes it is really difficult to know the difference. Buyer beware!

In the movies, a stunt-double may be used to protect a famous actor during a dangerous scene. Since movies are fantasy, we accept some illusions and computer-generated special effects. But not in real life.

Our world has been flooded with the counterfeit. The Free Dictionary defines counterfeit as “To falsify, deceive, or defraud. A copy or imitation of something that is intended to be taken as authentic and genuine in order to deceive another.”

Many people have been frustrated to find that their new luxury purse is bogus. Not to mention the fraudulent resumes, plagiarized sermons, fake ID’s, and falsified credit cards.

It is estimated that there are 14.3 million phony monthly active users on Facebook. On Twitter, it is projected that 30% to 60% of the accounts have sham profiles. How can we know the true from the false?

There is a story in the Old Testament that speaks to the subject. It is a sobering narrative that should make each of us bow before the Lord in repentance and humility. In 2 Chronicles 12, Israel is in turmoil. Only five years had passed since the amazing King Solomon died. Now the nation had split in two, and neither side was living for God. Even Judah forsook the Law of the Lord.

The army of Egypt took advantage of a weak Israel and robbed the Temple of Jerusalem of many treasurers. In particular, they took 300 solid gold shields. This ceremonial armor was used on the most sacred occasions, but especially when King Solomon would enter the Temple for worship. Not having these shields would impact the appearance of devotion that Solomon had instituted.

The immature king Rehoboam decided to deceive the people of Israel by making 300 shields of brass to replace the lost shields of gold – brass for gold. That way, when it came time for him to worship, it would appear that his devotion equaled that of Solomon. Looking good became more important that being genuine.

There is a warning here for those who come to worship God. Do not let your outward acts of devotion hide an undevoted heart. May we not “speak with tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (sacred esteem and reverence),” for then we become “as sounding brass!” (1 Corinthians 13) Brass represents the counterfeit that hides the loss of the authentic.

Could it be that some worship is more counterfeit than authentic? Are some worshippers trying to keep up appearances, but bringing very little unstained devotion to the altar? Do we offer God brass instead of gold? The proof is in the results. And as it says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord looks at the heart.”

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