Testing Builds Character

The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold
[to separate the impurities of the metal],
And each is tested by the praise given to him
[and his response to it, whether humble or proud]
(Proverbs 27:21 AMP).

Solomon compares refining metal by fire to how we believers receive praise. It’s possible that we may be assessed better by what others say of us. However, humility, truthfulness, and the crucible of testing should display godly character in us.

Purity of Character

The melting points of silver and gold (precious metals) are well known by the jewelers and craftsmen. This treatment by fire removes impurities. We need to reject impurities in our character, speak the truth in love, deal honestly with others, and have compassion for all. This will reveal Christ-like character in us.

Things Praise Reveals

The Holy Spirit shaping your thoughts, intentions, and performance should be evident to all. I’ve found three useful and interesting interpretations of this proverb:

  • A man’s character is displayed by the way he receives praise. On the other hand, living for the praise of man can lead to missing God’s intentions for us.
  • A man is viewed by the things he praises. This can encourage or discourage us.
  • A godly man dismisses the praise of unworthy substance—this process is a hard task. We must listen closely to the Holy Spirit on a regular basis and embrace it as a crucible for growing in Christ.

Building character is based on discipleship, Bible application, and steadfast faith in Jesus Christ. Humility, truthfulness, and the crucible of testing should display godly character in us.

Prayer: Father, I accept your crucible. Test me and try me to improve my character—I want to be like Jesus. Selah.

 

Reflection of the Heart

As a face is reflected in water,
so the heart reflects the real person
(Proverbs 27:19 NLT).

Solomon gets introspective with this verse. He uses the example of self-assessment and then being assessed by what others see in our actions, our speech, and our motives. This proverb needs some examination. God knows us inside and out, but others know us only by what they observe and hear.

 

See Ourselves

We must see ourselves in the mirror of God’s assessment, the intent of our heart. God knows how we think, consider others and serve them. Godly character is built on spiritual action based on his Word.

What Others See

Do we love others as much as we love ourselves? Do we show it? What we do is viewed by others as part of our character. The optimum here would be to ask ourselves . . . “What would Jesus do?” Then do it that way.

Our challenge is to view ourselves as God would and act on it. Our heart, one with God’s, should be the compelling reason for what we think, do, and say. God knows us inside and out, but others know us only by what they observe and hear.

Prayer: Father, reveal to me how to respond to others, to meet peoples’ needs, and to encourage them. Thank you for lifting me up daily. Selah.

The Precursor

Just as iron sharpens iron,
a person sharpens the character of his friend
(Proverbs 27:17 Contemporary English Version).

It’s worth meditating on Solomon’s one short verse. He focuses on improving character of another — body, mind, and soul. It’s a precursor to the Great Commission commanding us to make disciples and teach new believers to live God’s ways.

Teach God’s Ways

In a Christian setting this means teaching new believers to blossom in their understanding and knowledge of biblical concepts—to grow in their faith. When Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all men, he was teaching everyone God’s ways:

Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20 The Message).

Train to Succeed

The world’s concept is that a mentor or leader would train a person to be the best they could be. (All God intended them to be). This could be work related, character building, family life instruction, financial guidance, or many other areas needed to live a godly and productive life.

The intent of this poignant verse, iron sharpens iron is to build good character in others. It’s a precursor to the Great Commission commanding us to make disciples and learn to live God’s ways.

Prayer: Father, help me be a light for others to see you in action. I need your continuing guidance every day. Selah.

Don’t Abandon A Friend

Never abandon a friend—
either yours or your father’s.
When disaster strikes, you won’t have to
ask your brother for assistance.
It’s better to go to a neighbor than
to a brother who lives far away (Proverbs 27:10 NLT).

Solomon gives wise advice which seems counter culture to what the Israelites believe and maybe we believe today. Do not abandon a friend or neighbor when disaster strikes — whatever the cause. Keep this in mind, especially if your family isn’t geographically near.

Value Relationships

Solomon and Jesus alike taught a good relationship with a friend or neighbor is valuable and worth the effort. Jesus even stated the difficult command “love your neighbor.” Love your neighbor and living in harmony with them infers also helping to meet each other’s needs whenever the occasion arises. *

Be Aware of Needs

Disaster may strike any of us at any time. So be aware of each other’s needs, especially those who are live close to you — frends and neighbors. They, like you, can be affected by disaster without warning. So, when critical needs are present, you can be a first responder and readily help in some manner.

Friends and neighbors you’ve cultivated in kindness and love have lasting value. Remember, you too may be that one in times of disaster or trial. Keep this in mind, especially if your family isn’t geographically near.

Prayer: Father, I value family, help me value my neighbor as well.

* Study Guide for Proverbs 27, David Guzik, blueletterbible.org.

Don’t Gossip

Fire goes out without wood,
and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.
A quarrelsome person starts fights
as easily as hot embers light charcoal or fire lights wood.
Rumors are dainty morsels
that sink deep into one’s heart
(Proverbs 26:20-22 NLT).

Solomon continues with poignant advice we need today. When our ears hear gossip, our mind must immediately decide what to receive—if any—and what to dismiss, likely all. Let the Holy Spirit guide us when we hear gossip and don’t engage in it. Beginning today, work on hearing effectively and speaking the truth in love.

The Fuel

Gossip, rumors, contention, and quarreling are like wildfires from our mouths. Often out of control, they needlessly destroy good intentions. One commentator * describes it as the fuel that burns up the spirit, a terror called divisiveness. Make a concerted effort not to chew on these inflammatory morsels.

The apostle Paul has much to say about gossip in his letters to the churches at Rome and Corinth and to Titus and Timothy. He strongly warned believers to be wary of straying away the truth they’d learned. Paul specifically told them to refrain from gossip. It’s not language that honors God.

Wounds

The result of listening to or spreading rumors and gossip can quickly lead to wounded friendships. Likewise, fellowship may be burnt to a crisp, due to the strife that gossip causes. The Holy Spirit is our guide when we hear gossip. Make sure not to engage in it at all. Beginning today, work on hearing effectively and speaking the truth in love.

Prayer: Father, help me not to gossip nor burn relationships with my thoughtless communication.

*Commentary on The Whole Bible, Vol 1, Matthew Henry, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Proverbs 26, p779.

More On Communication

A north wind brings stormy weather,
 and a gossipy tongue stormy looks.
24 Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack
 than share a mansion with a nagging spouse (Proverbs 25:23-24 MSG).

The Message version continues with some humor on how to get away from a contentious spouse [most versions use wife here]. Remember it’s Solomon’s depiction not mine. The solution seems extreme. However, the situation is also. Let God help you control your tongue and you will be blessed with his message.

Don’t Be Quarrelsome

This vivid comparison of a gossipy tongue and a contentious spouse is real. It’s an historical problem and a real one today too. Slander, backbiting, gossip and quarrelsome speech are divisive and disrupt positive relationships.

Ask God What to Say

Here is God telling Jeremiah what to do during the siege of Jerusalem.

Call to me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own (Jeremiah 33:3 MSG).

Yes, God is in the business of speaking to people, the Prophet Jeremiah, simple people like Gideon and even simpler people like us! God knows our situation and he wants to hear our requests. Let God help you control your tongue and you will be blessed with his message.

Prayer: Father, I know you love me and want to help me. What a blessing to know you answered Jeremiah and you will answer us today. I’m listening and want to hear your voice.

New Way Of Life

If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
For in doing so, you will heap coals of fire upon his head,
And the Lord will reward you (Proverbs 25:21,22 AMP).

Solomon bursts out a few words on how to treat our enemies. His wisdom here is beyond normal understanding. He gives a godly approach in dealing with folks who seem to be our enemies. Today believers have wonderful guidance. Because our help is through the Holy Spirit withour eyes kept on Jesus.

God’s Generosity

Because God sent His Son Jesus, we see additional meaning. We must do things differently, acting in love, due to the Father’s generosity to us.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (Hebrews 10:23,24a NASB).

Keep Your Eyes on Jesus

God told Joshua, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you whoever you go (Joshua 1:9 NIV. Today believers have wonderful guidance too. Our help is through the Holy Spirit with our eyes kept on Jesus.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me your Counselor. I do struggle with certain people at times. Help me act and react in love. Selah.