Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
One of my all-time favorite songs is Sound Doctrine’s “The Refiner’s Fire.” The lyrics start out like this:
He sits and He stares, at the precious metal there,
And He knows exactly what He’s looking for.
If He should ever find the slightest flaw of any kind,
Then He’ll increase the heat a little more.
It takes a little while, but it always brings a smile,
When He sees it’s almost ready for the mold.
The purging is complete when He takes it from the heat,
And He sees His own reflection in the gold.
The song goes on to recount God’s refining in the artist’s life, saying how “It took so long to understand the fire,” and asking “And LORD I humbly pray that each and every day, You see a little more of You and less of me.” The LORD certainly uses adversity and troubles in our lives to try us, to purify us, and to prepare us for His service.
1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
The refining process, where God tries our hearts, is suffering. I’m reminded of what Phil Robinson told me years ago when I was first in Chile: the Spanish phrase for “receive instruction” in the Valera Bible is “castigo.” That means punishment. The chastisement of the LORD is what purifies us and makes us fit for the Master’s use.
Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
Bro. Jeremy Ogdie, the pastor we were with on Sunday evening, made a very poignant comment. He said that he believes that a public fault should be dealt with publicly, and a private one privately. That seems so simple, yet it’s so far removed from what usually happens in a “church discipline” situation. Believe me, I would never downplay the importance of church discipline; I’ve been in churches where some people needed to be dealt, not the least of whom was the pastor himself! But there is a right and a wrong way to deal with things, and as this verse points out, and in context, someone that keeps private a matter committed against him will tend to create friendships and trust, but a talebearer, or one that makes public a private transgression, will destroy any hopes of reconciliation, in a partnership, a friendship or even a marriage, so having services of marriage counceling from sites as ranchofhope.org could help with this.
Proverbs 17:23 A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment.
One of the greatest travesties in our modern American society is the advent of private jails and prisons. Now, bear with me here; I’m all for privatizing everything, but these correctional institutions are anything but “private.” In reality, they are no more than a corporatism scam to use insider connections to enrich the owners of the prisons. There have been multiple convictions of judges and prosecutors taking bribes to sentence juveniles and adults to these State-funded, privately-run prisons. Now, I wouldn’t assume that the convicts in question did not deserve punishment, yet they were certainly the pawns in a scheme of self-enrichment, carried out by corrupt government employees and government contractors, at the expense of the tax victims. This is an egregious and unacceptable corruption of the correctional system in this nation, which should be punishing actual crime, and not just using obscure and subjective regulations to lock people up for personal gain.
Proverbs 17:27 He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
In truth, this has always been something that I’ve struggled with. I love to converse, to share knowledge, and to learn, but often I’ll catch myself rattling on, saying too much. Here the Bible tells us that knowledge and wisdom will lead to a quieter personality; someone who has enough common sense to shut up will often be mistaken for a wise person. And, as someone once told me, the best way to change your behavior is to imitate the kind of person you want to be. Eventually you’ll find that you’ve developed a habit. Let’s try to make a habit out of appearing wise, not for personal glory, but so that we can learn wisdom and bring glory to the LORD.