The Counterfeit Life

The Counterfeit Life

Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Exodus 7:11-12

We took a family vacation to Mexico a couple years ago, where we found name brand sunglasses that were really cheap. We bought a couple pairs, knowing they were counterfeit, but still, I was surprised by how quickly the fake name brand sticker fell off. For some reason, it was amusing to pretend that we’d gotten expensive sunglasses for 10 dollars, but because they were cheap knockoffs, the illusion quickly fell apart and the fun was over.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to find satisfaction in the counterfeit. When I went to outpatient treatment for my drug addiction the first time, the counselor who did my assessment asked me what void I was trying to fill with drugs. Was I depressed? Did I have a terrible childhood? No. I just really like feeling good and drugs were a shortcut to achieve that. Drugs provided a counterfeit joy though, bought cheaply while exacting a terrible price later. I knew drugs couldn’t provide authentic life, joy, and peace, but still, they made me feel good right now. I bought into the counterfeit satisfaction of drugs and paid dearly for it.

The difference between the authentic and the counterfeit is illustrated in today’s passage. In it, Moses and his brother Aaron appeared before Pharaoh and, as God commanded, displayed God’s power by turning their staffs into serpents. Pharaoh, unimpressed, had his magicians do the same. God’s snakes however, swallowed up Pharaoh’s fake snakes. Moses displayed God’s authentic power while Pharaoh wielded a counterfeit power. Pharaoh imitated but couldn’t duplicate God because he wasn’t God. He was just a cheap knockoff.

What’s the lesson for me? Daily, I can find my center in God, who provides authentic life, joy, and peace because he created me to find those things only in him. Or I can daily turn to pornography, food, pride, money, or chemicals to make me feel good. It’s not wrong to seek satisfaction. I go wrong in where I try to find it. Finding joy in a life of following God is hard work. I get up early every day to read, pray, and abandon my way for God’s – hard work. Finding satisfaction in the counterfeit is easy. I can just eat junk or look up pornography on my phone right now. This of course, is a lie. Immediate gratification is futile, providing a temporary high that quickly fades, leaving misery in its wake. It is only in pursuing God that I experience authentic satisfaction. Everything else is as counterfeit as those cheap sunglasses.

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