How does a banker keep counterfeit currency out of his cash drawers? One way is by teaching his tellers how to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit bills. Experts say the secret to recognizing counterfeit money is not looking at endless examples of phony bills, but intensive exposure to the real thing. Once all of the characteristics of authentic currency are fully recognized, a counterfeit bill will stand out.
I believe this principle also holds true in our lives and in the marketplace. If you think about it, we are all capable of being deceived-it happens all the time. We hire a person who appears to possess superstar characteristics, only to find out they weren’t at all competent or trustworthy. We bite on a deal that seems too good to be true, and ultimately find out that it was. We change vendors based on pledged promises, only to discover that they couldn’t deliver what was guaranteed. It is bad enough to be let down, but being deceived or hoodwinked is even more serious.
Has a leader used his/her charm and charisma to garner your full support, only to find out that you were being exploited? Has a trusted teacher imparted a theology or practice that was misleading or dangerous? Did an associate or client betray you after you trusted in their genuine interest and concern? Dishonesty is as old as the Garden, as old as the crafty serpent who presented the opportunity of a lifetime: “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Paul goes on to warn us that it should be no surprise that some people disguise themselves as honest servants when their true intent is to mislead: “. . . and no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (11:14).
The answer is not to become cynical, expect an evil spirit around every corner, or believe everyone you encounter is a fraud. The answer is to saturate (inundate, oversupply) your mind with what is authentic. The path to authenticity is to become intimately acquainted with authentic, bona fide people of proven integrity. The more time you spend surrounded by those who possess these qualities, you will be able to recognize the one who looks to serve rather than swindle. Jesus instructed His disciples that you can’t judge by what you see on the outside (i.e. “ferocious wolves” in “sheep’s clothing“). Rather, “by their fruit you will recognize them . . . every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” It’s all about the fruit, which is only observed after a period of time. Are you seeking the genuine today? Who are you surrounding yourself with? Can others bear witness to your authenticity? Are you setting your mind on truth that flows from the Scriptures? A famous artist was asked how he had carved such perfect-looking Indian statues. He replied, I suppose I just chip away everything that isn’t an Indian. When it gets right down to it today, we all have some chipping to do.