May3MonMay 3, 2021
“The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3)
There is a whole lot of talk these days of gold and silver being the new metals of choice for investors, and potential world currency for buying and selling. Of course, the purer the metal, the higher the value it has to the one who possesses it. You may know from experience that buying 24 Karat gold jewelry is much more expensive than buying the same piece of jewelry made of 10 Karat gold. The purer the gold, the more that particular piece of gold endured the purifying process to remove the impurities. In the same way gold or silver is purified, God purifies His people. Now think of this process: first the metal has to be chosen out of the lump of rock; secondly, it has to be examined for potential purifying potential; thirdly, it has to be made to go through a purifying process, which back roughly 3000 years ago, at the time Solomon wrote this, was through a burning hot fire (not chemically like they do today). Lastly it was formed into a useful object for human use. The imagery is quite compelling: chosen, examined, purified (refined and polished), and formed for use. Sound familiar! It is. It is a common image God used often in His word to describe the refining process of His people. The fire they were subjected to for purification was a disciplining judgment/calamity – a trial or test. Here are a few of many examples:
NKJ Psalm 66:10 For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.
NKJ Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
NKJ Zechariah 13:9 I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.' "
NKJ Malachi 3:2 "But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.
From these scriptures we can see that the method God uses to purify His people is “affliction”, to “purge” the heart and character defects. The goal of this purification is “an offering of righteousness”. Herein lies the message of the Gospel: We were originally created in the image of God; that image has been tarnished or made impure by sin; God removes the impurities through the blood of Christ, which cleanses us of unrighteousness, and Holy Spirit who purifies us through His sanctification process.
Proverbs 17 contains some very interesting insights into the refining process. Many of these verses have to do with areas of our lives that God refines or uses to refine us:
17:6 – Family relationships (17:21, 25) – God uses family members to expose character flaws, especially the ones we live with.
17:7 – use of our mouth – the heart is connected to the mouth (17:20; 17:27-28). God wants your mouth to speak His heart to people removing criticism, slander, etc. (see Prov. 16:23)
17:9 – forgiveness of offences – maintaining love at all times (17:17)
17:10 – receiving correction is a sign of sonship to bring us to maturity (see Hebrews 12:1-11)
17:14, 19 – avoiding quarrels that cause fights – walk away from arguments
17:22 – healing of the heart and spirit – allow God to go deep and heal the wounds
Maybe, as you read through this proverb, or any other portion of the word of God, Holy Spirit will speak to you about an area of your life He wants to work on. Maybe, you are being tested right now…in the middle of a fiery ordeal that is really exposing some character issues. Praise God! He is refining you, making you like pure gold, so that He can use you for a greater mission. The road to spiritual promotion is through trial and testing – just think of Joseph…or Jesus. Praise God when you go through these trials and tests because you will come out of the fire with more value, because you look more like Jesus. You can say like Job: “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10)
Listen to the words of Peter:
These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold-- and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. NLT 1 Peter 1:7
I leave you with a prayer/song by Brian Doerksen to invite Holy Spirit to do His refining work:
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
And precious silver
Purify my heart
Let me be as gold
My heart's one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You my Master
Ready to do Your will (Brian Doerksen)