The Crucible… no, not the book
Categories: Devotional, Instructional
Guest writing today on the Cross Church School of Ministry blog is Lee Larry. Lee is serving with the Cross Church School of Ministry as a resident minister on the Pastoral Ministry track. Lee joins the CCSM from Winchester, Kentucky.
During January I had the opportunity to participate in “21 Days,” a time of prayer and fasting at Cross Church. During that time, I began to read through the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is full of wisdom and knowledge from one of the wisest men to ever walk the Earth, Solomon, and two other wise men, Agur and Lemuel. Many of the Proverbs have stood out through my study of the Scriptures, but as I read through Chapter 17 one verse stood out above the rest. Solomon writes,
“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3)
Throughout my fast, the Lord took me on a journey in which He examined my heart from many different perspectives and much of that examination came through meditating on the words of Proverbs. This particular verse gave me pause, because it speaks of the testing of our hearts by the Lord. It relates this testing to the extreme temperature that metals are put through in the refining process using a crucible or a furnace. The word crucible stands out, because while it can be defined as, a pot in which metals or other substances are heated to a very high temperature or melted, it can also be defined as, a difficult test or challenge.
This all points to a process called refinement. Refinement can be defined as removing impurities or unwanted elements from a precious substance. In our case, that precious substance is our hearts, the tools used for our refinement are trials, and our refiner is God.
It is hard for Christians to remember that trials are more than just a part of our lives, they are necessary for us to come to maturity in our Christian lives. James reminds us to,
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
In order for us to be mature and complete we must go through the crucible of enduring trials. God does not just look at what we are doing on the outside but He sees past that into our hearts,
“…man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
God sees every motive, every issue, and every character flaw that we have in our hearts and it is His desire to purify us so that we might not just look like Christ in our actions, but that we might reflect Christ in our hearts as well. Through these heated trials God brings all of our impurities to the surface. In the refining process for gold these impurities are called dross. Removing the dross from the precious metal makes for a clean or pure appearance. Wickedness is the dross that is found in our hearts, but through our trials we are tested and as we look to and trust in Christ our hearts are purified along with our motives and our character. Then when God looks at our hearts He will be able to say,
“He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold” (Job23:10).
At the end of the refining process the refiner looks in to the crucible to check his finished work and when he can see his reflection he knows the gold has been truly purified. When God looks into our hearts He desires to see a reflection of Christ looking back at Him,
“Look, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10)
At the end of my 21 day fast many issues of my heart were brought to the surface and through prayer, time with the Lord and, yes, though trials in my life, God will begin to deal with those issues and he will work those issues out so that I look more like Christ every day. So, when you are going through trials and tribulations, do not be afraid or grow weary, because when you come out of your crucible you will be purer than ever before.
“A man who endures trials is blessed, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)