Getting it right
Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the LORD tests the heart. – Proverbs 17:3
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.
4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope.
5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
How is gold refined? Since ancient times, the method used to refine gold was heat from fire. The goldsmith would put materials containing gold into a crucible or cauldron. He would then heat the solid material until it became molten. When this happened the impurities would rise to the top when stirred. He would then skim the impurities or draws and remove them. The temperature required was in excess of 1830°F. Those who were timid were not likely not enter this profession. This process is still in use today. A few modifications admin made in the areas of safety and precision.
By the way, the impurities are located throughout gold ore. The same is true of our hearts.
The Father intends for life itself to be a refining process. We may call it suffering, sorrow, or affliction because we focus on what is happening rather to us rather than recognize what the Father is doing in us. He has a game plan for the often-difficult refining process. We are to seek to actively learn from it.
The Father focuses on the finished product not the process. The refining process is a means to an end. The process is only temporary, the end result is permanent.
In Romans 5:4, the Greek word translated perseverance, or endurance is hupomone which meansa patient enduring, an attitude or frame of mind of patience, steadfastness, endurance, fortitude, or persistence.
The Greek word translated character or proven character is dokime. Dokime refers to something that has been tested and approved. In the first century when clay pots were formed, they were placed into a furnace and fired until they were transformed by the intense heat. The soft clay became a hard, resilient container. Some of the pots cracked and were discarded. Other pots came through the process intact and were stamped: dokimos, that is approved.
Affliction is not pleasant. However, affliction is a step-by-step process that transforms the children of the King. We become more like Him as He removes the impurity from our hearts. And He is the superbly qualified, experienced, expert spiritual heart surgeon. We could not be in better hands. Each child of the King is born again with congenital spiritual heart conditions. Our hearts are divided by the impurities within. That is why we are so given to react poorly, have troubled hearts, and anxiety.
Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them (Albert Einstein).
REFLECT & PRAY
Examine me, O LORD, and try me; test my motives and my heart (Psalms 26:2). It is so easy to “crack” under pressure. This is not the Father’s intention. His goal is that we come through whole and approved, not fractured.
Father help me to change my perspective and see things as You do. Encourage me to focus on the end result and seek to learn whatever it is You were teaching me.
Some people seem to be almost buoyant. No matter what, they seem to always float to the top. They are marked by resilience and vitality that remains even in the most difficult of circumstances. The Father is at work in each of us to develop this quality. It is His goal for each of His children.
The Father is focused on creating the remarkable inward quality of hope. Biblical hope is far different than hope of this world. Worldly hope is no more than wishful thinking. Biblical hope is not desiring or wishing for the best outcome. Rather, biblical hope is confident expectation, that will not be disappointed. The Greek word translated hope is elpis. Elpis is a reasonable and confident expectation regarding the future.
“Two people can meet the same situation. It can drive one of them to despair, and it can spur the other to triumphant action. To the one, it can be the end of hope; to the other, it can be a challenge to greatness. ‘I do not like crises,’ said the Director General of the BBC, Lord Reith, ‘but I like the opportunities which they supply.’”
“The difference corresponds to the difference between individuals. If we let ourselves become weak and flabby, if we allow circumstances to beat us, if we allow ourselves to whine and grovel under affliction, we make ourselves the kind of people who, when the challenge of the crisis comes, cannot do anything but despair.”
“If, on the other hand, we have insisted on meeting life with our heads held high, if we have always faced and, by facing, conquered things; then, when the challenge comes, we meet it with eyes alight with hope. The character that has endured the test always emerges in hope” (Barclay).
Why is it that the hope that the Father produces in us, is not disappointed? He mixes in a “secret” ingredient: love. He has bathed us in His love. Our Father’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been placed within us. When the Father’s love becomes palpable within us, the Holy Spirit has been at work to produce this result.
What we have on the inside, is greater than what we experienced on the outside.
Psalms 66:10 For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined.
The Father is a careful and precise craftsman. He seeks out the impurity, the dross that exists within our hearts. His intent is to bring it to the surface that we may see it for what it is, and then He removes it. His goal is to make purify us and produce greater and greater confidence in Him, and His love and future for us.
When our hope is in the Father, it cannot turn to dust and ashes. When our hope is in the Father, it cannot be disappointed. When our hope is in the Father’s love for us, it can never be an illusion, for our Father loves us with an everlasting love backed by an everlasting power (Barclay).
What a great honor and privilege it is to be a child of the King.
Some folks grumble because roses have thorns. Instead, be thankful that thorns have roses.
Are you thankful for the roses that the Father has put into your life even though they have thorns? Learning to be thankful that thorns have roses is a process. For some of us it may take a lifetime. It is all a matter of attitude, perspective, and focus.
Getting it right, wise living develops from knowledge of the Word of God, right perspective, and learning from the afflictions of life.