While on vacation in Alaska, we visited the El Dorado Gold Mine near Fairbanks. After a tour and demonstrations of mining techniques during Gold Rush days, we got to do a little panning for gold. Each person was given a pan and a bag of dirt and stones. After pouring the contents into the pan, we added water from a trough and swirled it around to stir up the silt and allow the gold, which is heavy, to sink to the bottom. Even though we had watched experts, we made little progress. The reason? Concerned about discarding something of value, we were unwilling to throw away worthless stones.
This reminded me of how possessions sometimes keep us from finding what is truly valuable. Jesus had an encounter with a rich man for whom this was true. His earthly wealth was more important to him than spiritual treasure (Luke 18:18-30). Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” (v.24).
Although money is not evil, it can prevent us from inheriting true riches if accumulating it is the goal of our lives. To hoard wealth is foolish, for it is genuine faith, not gold, that will sustain us through trials and result in praise, honor, and glory to God (1 Peter 1:7).
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands. —Miller