Are you being fooled by false values? Are they making a fool of you? They could be unless you can distinguish between them and God's true values...
How tragic! The prevailing values of our society are the false values of Satan the devil! Satan, the "god of this world" (II Cor. 4:4), has deceived most of mankind into accepting his false standards as the measures by which people judge themselves. But, despite their outward glimmer and glamour, Satan's values have no real substance. Are you, unwittingly, one of the billions who spend their entire lives connivingly, relentlessly — even desperately — following after the fool's gold of the false values? Don't think you couldn't be! Satan's standards are not easily or quickly recognizable as false values — even by some brethren in God's Church. But by letting those false values rule your life, you could find yourself as helpless as the inexperienced gold prospector who dumped his ore on the assayer's scale only to be told: "This stuff is worthless, mister. It's fool's gold, and the fool is you." The fool's gold of false values is worth no more than the crumbly heap of worthless ore the naive prospector handed the assayer. Sadly, though, some, even in the Church, have sold all to buy fields that contain not the treasures of God's Kingdom, but only the glitter of mines full of fool's gold. Some of us cannot even recognize or define what the true values really are! The motto of Ambassador College is "Recapture True Values." But would you be hard put to say, in a few words, what it is we in God's Church are trying to "recapture"?
Satan's false values
Jesus Christ is the great spiritual Assayer. It is through Him alone, and through His Word, that we can analyze our values. The Bible is the testing fire through which we must pass each of our values to determine whether they are fool's gold or the eternal riches that perish not. And when we test this world's standards — Satan's false values — we find that they fail miserably. One false value for which the world generally lusts is wealth — material possessions. Our society is steeped in materialism. Of course, there is nothing wrong with having nice things. God's Church has always taught that wealth of itself is not wrong, and that we should buy the best quality goods we can afford. Jesus Christ came that we "might have life, and … have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). But when the desire for wealth or material possessions takes the place of God's true values in our lives — when we set our lusts upon or put our trust in these things — then these desires become a snare: "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (I Tim. 6:9-10). In the end, wealth becomes a great disappointment, for money and material possessions all perish — you can't take them with you when you die. None can purchase for you any part in God's Kingdom. That's why Christ tells us in Luke 12:15, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." Christ goes on to describe a man who, after accumulating great possessions, selfishly decided to keep acquiring and storing them for himself, as though he could take them past the grave. God said to the man, "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" (verse 20). And Christ said elsewhere: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26). Anyone who makes mammon his ultimate aim will find himself, in the end, with values as worthless as a lump of fool's gold. Another false value is fame. Not every person will admit to wishing for fame, but most carnal human beings do long after one of fame's children — prestige, popularity, awe in the eyes of others. Again, fame of itself is not wrong. Jesus Christ Himself was famous in His own day: "And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about" (Luke 4:14). Similarly, the fame of Solomon spread so much throughout the world that the Queen of Sheba made a special trip to see him. She wanted to see whether the reputation he had among the people was rightly deserved (I Kings 10:1-13). It was. But when fame becomes an end in itself, and a person desires notoriety before God's true values and His Kingdom, then fame becomes a false value and a catalyst of much evil. Such was the type of evil fame — infamy — that Absalom, David's son, garnered for himself when he sought to turn the heart of the people from his father to himself. Part of Absalom's fame resulted, apparently, because he flaunted his good looks: "But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him" (II Sam. 14:25). So great was Absalom's vanity that he apparently made a great production of weighing his hair each year and publicizing the results (verse 26). But Absalom's vanity and desire for fame ended in his downfall — his long hair caught in the branches of a tree and literally hung him from his head, and his foe killed him II Sam. 18:9, 14). Likewise, the inward, twisted pursuit of fame engaged in by the people of this world will prove to be a waste of time and effort. Their balloon will burst in their faces when Christ asks to see their fruits and they have none to show.. Another false value those in Satan's society strive after is power. The author of the lust for power is Satan. He was unhappy with the responsibility God gave him originally, and became envious of God Himself: "For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the most High" (Isa. 14:13-14). Those who fall into the trap of wanting more and more power are merely mimicking the greatest usurper of power ever — the god of this world, Satan the devil. And the curse that will befall Satan, the father of power lust, will certainly come upon those who adopt his selfish attitudes as their own codes for living. One false value is often disguised as a true value, and it does indeed have good elements within it. But nonetheless it must be classed as a false value. It is knowledge. Knowledge is good, of' course, if it builds upon the foundation of all truth, the Word of God. But acquiring knowledge as an end in itself leads to vanity ("Knowledge puffeth up" — I Cor. 8:1). And knowledge not based on God's Word and God's truth leads away from eternal life
because its use produces wrong results. Many people in this society worship knowledge almost like a god. But a person is not saved according to how much of this world's education he has, nor according to the size of his vocabulary, nor according to how many letters he has after his name. In fact, many people have devoted their lives to becoming educated in this world's knowledge, only to become specialists in the very philosophies of Satan himself, such as evolution, false psychology and wrong business practices. Romans 1:28 remarks, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." As Solomon said, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12). Those who have made man's knowledge — apart from God — a god in itself have merely learned how to run faster toward unrighteousness than those who have not yearned so greatly to soak up Satan's mind and substance. This is not to say that one cannot be a Christian and be educated. But true education must be in harmony with and build upon God's laws and truth, rather than be in opposition to them. And knowledge should never become one's god.
Can't follow both
The false values examined above are each damaging in their own ways. But they do have certain things in common. First, none of them has any lasting value. They are temporary. They will burn up or disappear when Christ renews the world and replaces this system with His own (Heb. 1:11, II Pet. 3:10). A second thing they have in common is that, to us human beings, who view things superficially at times, they all look like they have great value. They are "deceitful" (Matt. 13:22), both to those who have excelled in the false values and to those who have not but wish they had. However, such counterfeit values, though perhaps looking good on the surface, have no more real value than the fool's gold spoken of earlier. God will not accept them as the basis upon which to transform any human into an immortal, spirit-composed God Being. Third, practicing false values chokes out the true values that God's Word teaches and promotes. Human beings simply cannot maintain true values and false values at the same time. Our minds are singular; they seek one set of goals at a time. We simply cannot serve both God and mammon (Matt. 6:24).
God's true values
What, then, are the true values? The true values parallel the false values in the sense that for each false value there is a corresponding true value with which we should replace it. The first of these true values is character. While the people of this world strive and struggle to have more money or material possessions, true Christians should be hungering and thirsting for righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Physical possessions are ephemeral, but character will remain with us forever — character is a special type of wealth. It is the quality that God's whole plan was set in motion to produce! The basic qualities of character — the fruits of God's Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 — are the true riches: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Instead of vainly seeking after the second false value of prestige or fame, the true Christian seeks to build and preserve proper group relationships. The false value of fame is based upon vanity and self. But giving oneself to build a group serves both the individual and the others involved. These group relationships include one's marriage, one's family, God's Church and one's friends. Like fame, proper group relationships are based upon the feelings we have for other people or the feelings they have for us. But unlike fame, proper group relationships are based upon helping, encouraging and giving to the others in our group, and not upon pushing others down so we may exalt ourselves. Such relationships are exemplified by the Church, which, far from being a catapult for the selfish desires of any particular person, is rather the epitome of concern for one another: "That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it" (I Cor. 12:25-26). Rather than seeking to exalt himself, the person who embraces this second true value cherishes family and friends and is training himself to become a Member of the Family of God and the Wife of Christ at His return. Instead of seeking the third false value of power, a Christian should seek service. Even Christ Himself, who existed before the foundation of the earth and shared great power with God, so treasured the value of service that He set aside His power to become a servant. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself' (Phil. 2:5-8). In Matthew 20:26-27, Christ announced that "whosoever will be great [i.e., have great power] among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Those who strive for service —
who elevate the goal of serving to one of their chief values in life — will find themselves in the group of sheep who gave the hungry meat and the thirsty drink, and who clothed the naked stranger. They will "inherit the kingdom prepared for [them] from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34). And instead of seeking only for worldly knowledge, a true Christian should seek wisdom. Wisdom may be defined as the correct use of true knowledge, based on the foundation of God's Word. A person armed with real wisdom is well equipped for this world and for the world tomorrow. "For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it" (Prov. 8:11).
Build upon a rock
Christ defined a wise man as one who hears the sayings of God and follows them: "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock" (Matt. 7:24). In this parable, the rains and flood beat upon the house built oil the rock of hearing and doing Christ's sayings, but it did not fall. And the wise, the ones who hear and do Christ's sayings, will be the ones who enter God's Kingdom: "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (verse 21). Just as the false values have certain things in common, so also do the true values. First, the true values are far different from the false values because the true values have lasting rewards: "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal" (Matt. 6:19-20). And second, the true values, to a carnal mind, do not look like they will help a person reach happiness, but they do. One does not see the "value" in the true values until he begins to apply the true values in his life. This simple fact — that one must obey and honor the true values in faith (believing that they are of benefit) — is the very reason most people never apply them in the first place. To the carnal mind, they just do not seem correct (Prov. 14:12). God's true values are a golden treasure God hid in the field of this life. It is for these values that we should "sell all" spiritually, and then with joy "buy" the truth: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field" (Matt. 13:44). God's values are no worthless mine shaft filled with glittery false values. Instead, they are the substance of our quest for eternal life. But what about you? Are you seeking the true riches of the true values? Or is the fool's gold of false values making a fool of you?