Gold. Since before recorded history, it has been the substance symbolic of that which is most valuable in life. Beautiful, enduring, useful, and pure, gold has long been trusted to have worth, whether as a wedding band, an Olympic medal, or as ingots stored at Fort Knox, Ky. For many, gold has stood as a source of economic security – a kind of refuge – when nothing else could.
But is gold the ultimate value, the greatest good?
In the Bible, gold is highly prized as a source of prosperity and a symbol of all that is precious. But it is not regarded as the supreme good. After all, gold is a treasure that can be lost.
The Bible indicates that there is something higher and better: the laws and judgments of God. As the Psalmist says: “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold” (19:9, 10).
The New Testament records the account of Jesus’ disciples Peter and John healing a man who had been born lame and was begging on the steps of a temple (see Acts 3:1-8). Peter told him: “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Healing the man was deemed better than giving him gold.
The Bible also reminds us that there is another side to gold and what it represents. When it becomes an object of obsession – a god – gold, or rather the excessive love of it, becomes a source of distortion, even evil, in life. In the book of Exodus, the children of Israel melted their gold jewelry, and the priest Aaron fashioned it into a golden calf for them to worship.
When Moses saw it, he was angry. Having only recently been to the height of Mt. Sinai and received the Ten Commandments, he knew the importance of worshiping the one God before all else. Moses knew that the worship of a golden image would not bring good to the children of Israel, and so it proved.
In a more modern era, the Spanish conquistadors were motivated by the hope of finding El Dorado, the Lost City of Gold. Such a golden city has never been found on earth. But in her textbook, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, likened El Dorado to the spiritual attainment of the ultimate good. “Dost thou ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind’? This command includes much, even the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship. This is the El Dorado of Christianity” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 9).
Through the course of the recent worldwide financial turbulence, some have turned to gold for security and a refuge. Many believe that one of the lessons from this turbulence is for the world to acknowledge and act upon the importance of principle and reason in financial dealings. But beyond that, spiritual seekers know that the understanding of God will not tarnish, fail, devalue, or be stolen. That kind of knowledge is more than worth its weight in gold.
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