In the year that I worked as a pawnbroker, I only took in, as far as I know, one piece of fake jewelry. An interesting part of the experience of standing behind the Pawn Shop counter is learning that people come in with the intention of swindling you. People often hope to get as much money as they can for something a) they are not coming back for, b) they stole and shouldn’t be selling or c) isn’t what they say it is.
They stand in front of you and lie and, teary-eyed or confident, they’re convincing.
A girl stood on the other side of my counter one day with a gold chain. It should’ve clicked when she seemed surprised at the amount I offered her for it. I did a quick scratch test to see if it was real, but it can be difficult to tell if things are gold plated. My inexperience made me an easy target, and
I gave the girl $100 for a necklace that wasn’t worth ten.
At closing time, my boss checked through the jewelry that had been pawned. As soon as he got hold of this necklace, he knew it was fake, and he called me into his office to express his displeasure.
Remembering that experience years later, I’m reminded that we all have an enemy trying to get one past us, day after day.
We have an enemy who wants to pawn off untruths as the truth. Who wants us to wear fake gold chains of works-earned salvation, chains of believing we’re not as loved as we are by God or people, or that we’re just not good enough to receive God’s amazing grace.
And like the gold-plated chain that sat on my scale that day, there are sometimes elements of truth in the things that the enemy tells us, which make the lies even more convincing. It’s true that we’re undeserving of the grace of God. We are undeserving of the forgiveness Jesus bought for us. But that is precisely why it’s amazing, and why it’s Grace.
Through many means — magazine covers, TV and commercials, misunderstood words from friends, even Facebook photo albums — our enemy is trying to sell us gold-plated falsehood. You need more to be happy. The way that you look isn’t good enough. If you can dress more like this, cut your hair like that, you might be good enough to be loved. Everyone else is managing parenthood better than you.
Between the lines, I realize I’m constantly letting untruths get past my counter. I pay for them, and they sit in my storeroom, taking up space and telling me what to believe.
What surprised me the most about buying that gold chain wasn’t that I was fooled. It was how quickly my boss was able to recognise a fake. As soon as it touched his hands and he felt the weight of it, he knew it wasn’t the real thing.
What was the difference between us?
He’d spent enough time with the real thing. He was so well acquainted with the truth, he was immediately able to recognise falsehood, before it crossed his counter.
My golden mistake taught me this: To live a life where I’m not allowing untruths to guide my daily walk, I need to get better acquainted with the real thing. I need to walk with Truth, to hold it in my hands and hide it in my heart.
Knowing the Truth will save you from buying the world’s fake gold chains.
By Caroline Collie, From Africa, With Love