A Blessing? (or Cautiously Optimistic)

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise. (Proverbs 27:21 ESV)

This one hit me hard the other evening. The NLT translates it: Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised. I had been basking in some encouraging words I had recently received. As I read those words above the conviction was instant. So, in God’s good providence, I know I needed to hear it. Temptation always lurks. I know that humility come before honor and pride before a fall (cf. 16:18; 18:12.) So I actually felt the warning. I can let that praise go to my head (as flattery) and move me toward trouble or I can receive it gratefully and humbly, looking forward in faith.

Several ideas and passages flood my mind as I think about this. First is the fact that receiving praise is a test. The crucible and furnace are instruments of purification. And they are hot! How I receive praise and commendation will reveal my heart and test my character. Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. (Prov. 4:23 CSB) Second, other passages confirm and advance this. For example, a crucible for silver, and a smelter for gold, and the LORD is the tester of hearts (17:3). The Lord is behind this! He uses our experiences to improve us. We are to grow not only through difficulties, but also through successes. Perhaps he is also reminding me to hold on to things in this world loosely and to be slow to assume a high sense of my own importance. That is actually freeing (cf. Philippians 2). Finally, it is a reminder to be thankful. All I have is from God. Any profitable thing I do is as an instrument in his hand. And so as I trust in him with all my heart, he will continue to direct my path—and yours.

PRAYER: Dear Lord, all that I have is from you. Thank you for your steadfast love and your mercies. Help me rejoice in the Lord always. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About Joseph V. (Josh) Carmichael

Board Certified Chaplain. Ordained Minister. Adjunct Professor. Writer. Husband to my dear wife. Father of six young men. (PhD, SBTS; MDiv, RTS; MBA, UA)
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