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Beware: All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Hidden Nuggets Series #44 – “When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.” – Joshua 7:21

all that glitters is not goldYou could see in his eyes the burning desire to possess the golden treasure. The moment he had waited for his entire life had now come. The reward was within his grasp and nothing could stop him now.

Except the chain reaction that occurred once Indiana Jones lifted that little idol off its intended resting place. You just knew that bag of sand he used to replace the idol when he picked it up was not going to work.

In the next few moments, he would face a collapsing cave roof, poison darts shooting from the cave walls, a giant rolling boulder, and natives with spears. The worst part is he didn’t even get to keep the idol, having to turn it over to his treasure-seeking arch rival. Sure does seem like something bad happens when we try to attain something that we are not supposed to have.

The Eyes Are The Window to the Soul

Of all our senses I believe we are most enticed by what we see. We see people with power…we want it. We see wealth…we pursue it. We see people take shortcuts to get ahead…we attempt them. We see fame…we crave it, even if just for 15 minutes.

In this regard, our eyes help reveal what we value. They see the world and we are prompted to make decisions based on that information. Our resulting actions reveal the depth and scope of our character. 

And incidentally, this issue is WAY more challenging for men because of how our brains are wired. We are far more visually oriented than our female counterparts.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold: An Ancient Example

The Bible describes an event in the book of Joshua where Israel has just been dealt a confidence-shaking blow through a military defeat at a small city called Ai. When the dust settled, God revealed to Joshua their defeat happened because there was sin in the camp. With God’s assistance, they trace this sin to the household of Achan.

When confronted by Joshua, Achan answers him by saying,

“Indeed I have sinned against the Lord God of Israel, and this is what I have done: When I saw among the spoils a beautiful Babylonian garment, two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them. And there they are, hidden in the earth in the midst of my tent, with the silver under it.’”

Achan had taken these items from the rubble of the once mighty city of Jericho Israel had previously defeated. His actions were a problem because the people had been explicitly instructed not to take any of the accursed things once they had conquered the city. All of the silver, gold and other precious items were to be consecrated to God.

Seems like a fairly straightforward command to me.

The Power of Sight

Achan was enticed by something he saw that glittered. Notice the progression that led to his sin:

1. He looked (and probably looked again)

2. He processed (they were “beautiful”)

3. He desired  (“I coveted them”)

4. He acted (he “took them”)

5. He kept it secret (no one in Israel knew he had done this thing)

The draw of these items was too much for Achan, even though he knew God’s instructions. Unfortunately for him and his family, the legal consequence in that culture for taking these accursed items was death.

Some things in our world are beautiful and have been placed there for our benefit and enjoyment. Other things, are to be avoided because the consequences would be physically and spiritually fatal. It’s up to us to have the wisdom to know the difference and realize all that glitters is not gold.

Questions: What is enticing you today? Is it something that could lead to negative consequences? How do you avoid falling victim to the lust for power, fame and wealth?

(Post edited from first publication date, Sept. 2012)

Image by Luke1428.com

Next Post: After 7 Years of Wedded Bliss We Are Dumping Costco

Prior Post: This One Trick Started Our Process of Doing Successful Budgets

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  1. Great post Brian – it really is amazing how you can be travelling along contently, life being just fine, and then you see something you just ‘have’ to have, or other people that have something you suddenly think you need (like when children always want the toy the other children have!). This definitely causes me much confusion on occasions, when I’m not firmly grounded in my own core values, but I do try to be very grateful for what I already have as a means to combat this seemingly endless problem.

    • Thanks for the insightful comment Jason! It is tough, especially with a child pulling at your heart strings to make a purchase for him/her. Some of the best lessons our children have learned though in relation to money were time when we had to tell them “No” for something they really wanted.

  2. Wonderful post, Brian! I am practically speechless. Contentment is such an important term and frame of mind to have in life. As you’ve shown, and in many other places in the bible, when our hearts start desiring things, they oft lead us far from where we want to be. I think in some ways I am easily enticed by all the things you’ve mentioned. I don’t have a fool-proof plan to not yield, but I do believe a heart of humility and gratitude for everything God has given (and meditating on that) is a help.

    • Thanks Sherrian! Seems like since the beginning of time mankind has had difficulty with contentment and gratitude for what they already possess. What we have is simply never enough. That’s an attitude we have to overcome for sure.

  3. Singing “Lord, it’s hard to be humble. When you’re perfect in every way!” j/k I am humbled by others lives and seeing the adversity that some people go through and rise above. That keeps me grounded and not get ahead of myself.

  4. Hmmm, I can’t think of anything in particular at the moment, but it does seem there are a lot of people who would be willing to do anything to get famous cough Kim and Kanya cough cough. 🙂 I always wonder just want tips someone over the edge that they are willing to do certain things for a buck.

    • “…what tips someone over the edge…” That’s a good question. Not sure I have a complete answer but it sure speaks to the power money can exact on our lives.


  1. […] gives, at Luke 14:28, a much needed warning that all that glitters isn’t gold. It is a great reminder, and reason to search, within yourself to question your motivation for the […]

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