Smoke and Mirrors

smoke and mirrorsThe world that surrounds us is often more illusion than it is reality. Advertising is less about what a product can do and more about selling people an image. Photographs are airbrushed to hide blemishes. Claims about effectiveness are exaggerated and deceptive. Truth about politicians or merchandise is often relegated to the shadows, and a false impression created in its place. An idiomatic phrase is frequently employed to describe these deceptive practices. We say it’s all ‘smoke and mirrors’.

The ‘world’ that tries to sell us stuff would have us believe the way to happiness is alcohol consumption, flashy cars, and seductive clothing. The outer image is portrayed as reality, and the inner person is dismissed. Scripture gives a different picture. “…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b). 

Solomon, purported to be the wisest man who has ever lived, tried following the world’s illusions of the good life.  In his pursuit of happiness, he submerged himself in parties and laughter. He tried cheering himself with wine and consumed the finest food. He built palatial homes surrounded by gardens and flowers. He had multitudes of servants and amassed great quantities of silver, gold, and rare jewels. He pandered to his sexual appetites and indulged in all kinds of foolish behavior.  A person would be well-served to know how it all worked out for him. Solomon, in his own words said, “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.”  His conclusion was, “ Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2). 

Who knows better what will satisfy the longings people have than the One who created us? Accord me the privilege of sharing a few of God’s words from scripture:

Proverbs 27:20b –“the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

Matthew 13:22“… the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he (man) becometh unfruitful.”

Ephesians 4:14 – “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried  about with every wind of doctrine, by the slight of men, and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in weight to deceive.”

Proverbs 11:22 – “As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair women without discretion.”

1 Peter 3:3,4 (NIV)Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

It has been my observation across my lifetime that peace of heart and mind are far more important than all the “stuff” the world offers. What the world offers is mostly ‘smoke and mirrors’. Our eternal soul is the greatest possession we have.  Jesus said, “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).

~ Brother Roy

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