In the long history of con artists, George C. Parker holds a special place of dishonor. He is remembered as one of the most successful and daring swindlers in American history. He set up an office in New York City and “sold” some of the city’s most famous attractions to tourists. His favorite was the Brooklyn Bridge, but he also sold the Statue of Liberty, Madison Square Garden, and Grant’s Tomb. He produced elaborately forged documents and deeds to convince his targets that he was the rightful owner of the landmarks he was selling.
Parker was so persuasive that on more than one occasion, police had to come and explain why the new “owners” of the Brooklyn Bridge couldn’t put up tollbooths to collect money from those who tried to cross. After his third conviction for fraud, Parker was sentenced to life at Sing Sing Prison in New York, where he spent the last eight years of his life. He dishonestly made a fortune preying on people who foolishly believed his empty words. He not only was an expert salesman, but he realized that many people were gullible and he could use that to his advantage.
God expects us to be careful and prudent with the resources that He entrusts to us. Of course, this applies to far more than financial matters. Prudence and wisdom also keep us from falling for the lies of temptation and protect us from great suffering and heartbreak. We should not be easily fooled, but rather we should investigate what we are told and be certain that it is true before making decisions. Paul wrote, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15). Develop godly discernment through reading and meditating on God’s truths and remaining responsive to the Holy Spirit. Walking with prudence will save you from a world of sorrow.