Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Gold has Dimmed

There is an unusual verse in the Bible, "How the gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull!" (Lamentations 4:1). As I considered this verse, I thought to myself, yes, my own gold is tarnished. I began to wonder just how we tarnish this fine gold that God has graced us with, and it is these thoughts I would like to share.

Inherent within this gem is the fact that we are made in the image of God Himself: "You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:5).

God has given each of us gifts of gold, but not the gold that the world worships. It is the gold of life, of humanity, of love, of talents and gifts that we scarce notice, much less give thanks for, as we consume each day on what the world treasures. We will chat, cheat, lie, embezzle and perjure ourselves for a pot of gold that we cannot take with us when God calls us all to account for the abilities He has graciously bestowed on us.

To the world gold is a precious metal for its qualities of stamina; it will not rust like iron nor tarnish like silver; it is less likely to corrode than other metals. It is a dazzling metal and it makes a splendid sight. It does not lose its luster and it appreciates in value. God's gold is humanity. He thought His creation of such great significance that He died so we might come forth as gold: "...When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). And, praise God, He deems us worthy of redemption and of a mansion for eternity.  "...If it were not so, I would have told you" (John 14:2).

Considering all this, then we should weep as we read this verse from Lamentations 4:1. To think that our fine gold is dimmed from base uses of noble gifts -- how the Giver must grieve! It is man who has introduced ugliness into a once lovely world: "And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). "How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (Psalm 104:24).

If God has blessed us with intellectual ability, artistic taste, gifts for music, philosophy or science, and the means for a refined education, then if we use these for worldly ambition, love of money, or solely for self-satisfaction, then we crucify Jesus every bit as much as those who cried for His blood when He was on earth.

We know our gold has become dim when we are no longer enthusiastic about life and our relation to its Creator. We are valuable in proportion to what we can accomplish and, even more important, our motives for doing what we do. And if we doubt what we are, then let us remember that we partake of God's nature, assist in God's work, and share God's glory!

What are the manifestations of our loss of luster? I think Paul sums it up in 2 Timothy 3:1-4: "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power."

When we fall into sin then our fine gold is dulled and our talents are prostituted to low ends. What a shame! We are made to give glory to God, and to shine for Him. Whether music, art, business, teaching -- whatever our profession in life -- our first profession must be Christ, and then He will give us joy and fulfillment in all aspects of our lives.

Finally, the gold is the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22). Notice that fruit here is single but, for the works of the flesh, the dimming of the gold, Paul uses the plural: "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (Gal. 5:19-21). But the fine and precious gold that God wants of those who profess to love Him are those qualities that shine forth in His own character.

It is interesting that the words grace and joy grew from the same Greek root. "The joy that was the fruit [gold] of the Spirit sprang from a life that was gracious and kind, full of good will, generous to impart itself to others, glad when they accepted and rejoiced with it, but forgiving, and still singing, when men rejected and persecuted it." What a grand description of the very source of our gold, the gentle and forgiving Jesus. He is the Fruit that feeds our souls and keeps our life shining for Him.

I close with a superb quote from The Biblical Illustrator: "You have swathed your garden in the blooming time, when every spur upon the branch holds promise of the cluster of the fruit; did you ever watch the blooming time of manhood? Did you note the quick impetuosity, the keen susceptibility, the noble emotions, the tender sympathy, the fine candor, the metallic ring of conscience, the play of high principle? Oh! what power was there to bless the world, if all this blossom had set in fruit, and all that manifold being had developed, in harmonious proportion, to its true stature; what a rich power, to hundreds and to thousands, had that one man been; what light he would have shot into the dark places of the universe; what a lever of help would his strong sympathy have become; what a power against wrong; what a haven of healthy sentiment and opinion; what a moral power; how his goodness would have radiate round him, as far as his world stretched. And, best of all, had that promise been fulfilled, had all those buds of hope and aspiration been set in fruit, he might have been how true, and good, and grand, a saint; devout, and yet withal as cheery as a tenant of this sunny world should be; tender and gentle as a little unspoiled child, and yet as manly as the strongest hero in the world. A worshipper in all his life, with God in all his thoughts; God in his heart; his life a happy, conscious, willing service of his God; and yet the freest child of man and user of the world; a presence, and a power of righteousness, wherever he was" (Anonymous).

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