Read Proverbs 17
Focus on verse 3
Very few of people I know enjoy a test. Whether it is an academic test at school, or a challenging time of testing at work, or possibly the most dreaded is a personal time of testing one’s character. These tests come in many different packages, but they all have the same purpose. They measure the process of our growth in some way. If we pass the test we can go on to the next level. If we fail, we find ourselves repeating the level until we can pass. There are situation where we can refuse to take the test, but the result is the same as a failure…we cannot go on to the next level until we choose to take the test and pass it.
In today’s reading Solomon writes, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” Just as precious metals are purified through the process of intense heat, so also the Lord’s refining fire seeks to purify our hearts. This process of refining is rarely a comfortable procedure. Most often it feels more like we may not survive. If gold or silver had feelings I suspect it might be what it feels like to be in a crucible having the impurities cooked out. This process of purification dramatically increases the value and usefulness of the gold and silver. Similarly, when we allow the Lord to purify our heart, it increases the necessity for, and our ability to, trust and obey Him. It also helps us to grow in our understanding of the Lord and ourselves, which increases our ability to effectively serve Him. When we attempt to avoid his testing, it usually only results in delaying or stunting our growth and maturity.
This process of testing can be painful to us because it puts us in a position where we realize how little control of anything we genuinely have, yet it is exactly this realization that strengthens our ability to trust the Lord with every aspect of our lives. At the end of our life, when all the testing is done, there will be a grand ceremony. Those who have passed the testing will be rewarded. Those who fail to pass or refuse to be tested will unfortunately face the consequences of that choice. So, once again it appears that we are given the option to choose our destiny.