All That Glitters

“All that glitters is not gold”  is a derivative of a line from the play, The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare. This saying has become well-known to mean that not every person or place or thing that appears to be precious or true is actually so. That which glitters may capture our attention, but may not be able to deliver the goods.

This is precisely what many novices discovered in the major gold rushes of the 19th and early 20th centuries: Panning for gold often resulted in finding pyrite, nicknamed “fool’s gold,” which reflects substantially more light than authentic gold does. Gold in its raw form appears dull and does not glitter.

A major hazard associated with fool’s gold is due to its instability. When exposed to air and water, iron pyrite decomposes and releases sulfate. Sulfuric acid is produced when sulfate combines with water, resulting in potentially acid rain.

We find the spiritual parallel in 1 John 2:15a and 17a: “Do not love the world or anything in the world…” because “the world and its desires pass away…”  The world’s glitter is like the instability of fool’s gold: It may capture our attention, but it will never be able to deliver the goods. All that the world offers as precious or true is simply not so; it will all pass away.

In James 1:17 we understand that “every good and perfect gift” (i.e. all that is precious and true) comes out of heaven. Let us, therefore, set our hearts and minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-2).

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