Today: [Proverbs 17] The Crucible of God’s Presence. In Proverbs 17 Solomon tells us that God tries the hearts of men as a refiner purifies metal in a crucible. How does God try us? Does He try us by allowing cancer, disease, heartbreak and poverty so we can be more like Him? This is the common teaching of Christian culture but does it truly line up with God’s word? If God does suspend the merits of the cross in order to bring such things on our lives are we to volunteer for such suffering? Many teach that to do so is the height of spirituality. Solomon speaks to us on these things and gives us a corrective view of just how God makes us more like Himself.
[Pro 17:1-28 KJV] 1 Better [is] a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices [with] strife. 2 A wise servant shall have rule over a son that causeth shame, and shall have part of the inheritance among the brethren. 3 The fining pot [is] for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts. 4 A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; [and] a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue. 5 Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: [and] he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished. 6 Children’s children [are] the crown of old men; and the glory of children [are] their fathers. 7 Excellent speech becometh not a fool: much less do lying lips a prince. 8 A gift [is as] a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth. 9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth [very] friends. 10 A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.
When we read verse three and see that the Lord tries our hearts as a smelter purifies precious metals, what does that mean to us? A fining pot is otherwise known as a crucible. A crucible is a metal container in which other metals are subjected to very high temperatures for the purposes of purifying them. The word crucible comes from a Latin word meaning “night light”. The apostle Paul made this statement:
[2Co 4:6 KJV] 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The light that God shines in our darkness is to purify our character by the heat of His presence. It is important to think about the trying of men’s hearts and how God does this according to scripture. The most common understanding of this in Christian culture is that God purifies our hearts through suffering. In other words that God suspends the merits of the cross (supposedly) at times in order to give Satan access to bring circumstances of suffering, illness etc., into our lives for the purpose of making us more like God or more godly in our character. This kind of thinking then suggests that God in pursuit of making us more godly contracts out to the devil to get the job done. A simple inquiry into the deeper meaning of the trying of men’s hearts in Proverbs 16 belies the inaccuracy of that supposition. God tries us through His Spirit and through His word.
One minister recently stated that he questioned the sonship or salvation of any believer who had not suffered (hypothetically at God’s hand). This may sound spiritual but my follow up question is “are you volunteering?” Would such a minister who teaches that God uses cancer, sickness, sorrow and difficulty to establish our righteousness in Christ – would this teacher of such things volunteer his or her own children or loved ones for such dubious honors? If God is the originator of such things in our life then why do we seek to be free of suffering in the first place? If God uses poverty to make men godly then why are we working for a living? Why are we seeking to be ungodly by being gainfully employed in order to care for our families if God allows poverty and deprivation to make us more godly?
If God brings sickness and physical suffering upon us to make us more godly then why do we resort to the medical profession for relief when in fact (if this were true) we would be fighting against God in so doing? This kind of thinking (that suffering and sorrow originates with God) is straight from the pit of hell. God will never put on you what the cross takes off of you. Jesus took stripes for your healing. He was poor so that you could be rich. He was rejected so you could be accepted. He suffered in our place to alleviate suffering. How then does God discipline us? In John 15:3 Jesus said “now you are clean through the word I have spoken unto you…” God chastens us with His word. He chastens us with the fire of His presence in such ways as expose the contradiction in our character to His holiness. He lovingly administers the fuller’s soap and refiner’s fire of His own presence that we might yield to His chastening hand and allow His grace to reform us into the image of His holiness and purity.
11 An evil [man] seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him. 12 Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly. 13 Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house. 14 The beginning of strife [is as] when one letteth out water: therefore leave off contention, before it be meddled with. 15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both [are] abomination to the LORD. 16 Wherefore [is there] a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing [he hath] no heart [to it]? 17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. 18 A man void of understanding striketh hands, [and] becometh surety in the presence of his friend. 19 He loveth transgression that loveth strife: [and] he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. 20 He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief. 21 He that begetteth a fool [doeth it] to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.
Verse 17 tells us that true friendship and brotherhood is not conditional. A friend loves at all times. What that means is that sometimes friendship is fleeting when suffering is great. One writer remarks that success has many friends but failure is a lowly beggar. In other words many friends are fair weather companions who are scarce to be found when our suffering is great. True friends will stand by you. True friends will be stalwart companions in the difficult times as well as the good times. True friends will fellowship your liabilities as well as your assets. They are willing to bear your reproach as well as to share your honors. The word friend in the English language comes from an Arabic expression meaning “covenant partner”. A true friend is covenantally bound to you regardless of what is in it for them. They are in your life not because you are compatible or mutually advantageous to one another. True friendship is a rare thing indeed.
22 A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. 23 A wicked [man] taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment. 24 Wisdom [is] before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool [are] in the ends of the earth. 25 A foolish son [is] a grief to his father, and bitterness to her that bare him. 26 Also to punish the just [is] not good, [nor] to strike princes for equity. 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.
Verse 22 tells us that a merry heart is like a medicine. There is a difference between a joyful heart and the sarcastic, pessimistic humor of the community of unredeemed men. In popular culture the balance of modern humor on the whole is rooted in mockery and sarcasm. Sarcasm is the last bastion of unbelief and scorn in our lives. There is no sarcasm in Christ. There is no dark humor or pessimism in Christ. Psalms 1 tells us not to sit in the seat of the mocker. Mockery and sarcasm bleed off your faith and leave you dry as toast in your spirit. The merry heart is a heart filled with the joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is a resource of wholesomeness and healing that will lift you out darkness and restore your spirit. God created laughter and mirth. Satan has hugely coopted the same to the detriment of mankind. Reclaim your joy today. Reclaim the heart filled with the joy that originates in God and fills you with wholesomeness and healing.
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