“The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry,”
At times I can be a bull in a China shop. I rush into a situations without thinking and ready, fire, aim only to realize I was completely wrong. I caused damage that didn’t need to happen and even burnt bridges as a result. Then of course I’m faced with the dreaded dilemma of what to do then? Do I swallow some pride and apologize or just play it off with an attitude of “if you don’t like it, deal with it” mentality? We’d rather pretend the issue wasn’t there and live with the elephant in the room instead of tranquilizing him, dragging him outside, and cleaning up the mess he left. However what we find is that we are missing out on an opportunity to grow in our walk with God. Part of the process of spiritual formation (fancy words for growing in Christ) is taking the nicks and scrapes we have in life and using them to learn, grow, and teach others.
Tucked in the lines of Proverbs 25 is an interesting verse that Solomon writes.
“Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith.” (Proverbs 25:4)
Now, maybe you reading this have a degree in fine metals so this is verse makes perfect sense, but for me I needed a little help. I decided to reach out to a friend of mine Rich who is a Purdue graduate, great Christian man, and metallurgist which means his profession is working with metals. I asked him to explain to me what taking the “dross from the silver” meant and his insight was very helpful.
Rich says, “Metals like silver are embedded in an ore. Inside the ore, is a precious metal like silver, but there is also many other impurities around that precious metal. So in order to refine the metal, most of the time you have to heat it up. In the process of heating it up, things begin to separate. Usually, the impurities float to the top in the process. These are called dross and they are carefully skimmed off, making sure the precious metal is left. Interestingly enough, the way to tell if a metal is truly pure is by looking into the bath, and if you can see your reflection, you know it’s pure and the dross is gone.”
When I heard this, this Proverb started to make perfect sense and my spiritual connection with God came into a much clearer focus. In our lives, we are constantly covered in impurities that we either roll around in ourselves or have tossed on us by someone else. In other words, the sin in our lives makes us impure and the precious metal that God designed for us is hid beneath layers and layers of muck. Jesus came to take that sinful impurity away, but in order for that to happen, we must allow the silversmith to refine us to the precious metal we were meant to be.
This means that as we grow in Christ, God refines us by taking away the impurities in our life. When this happens we begin to change and precious metal starts to surface and it’s seen as we lift people up with our words not tear them down (v 11), we choose not to be prideful (v 6), we choose to be patient (v 15), we honor our neighbor (v 9), we take care of our enemy (v 21), wives you honor your husbands (v 24), or we choose to have self-control (v 28). However, all of these things are identified and purified through the fire of the refinery. There is bit of discomfort that comes from breaking these sinful things away from ourselves but in the end we have a much deeper relationship with Christ. Peter says when considering the testing of our faith and the refining of our lives it is for a clear purpose.
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 (NLT)
My friend Rich again says it so well. “So let God turn up the heat in your life – whatever that be so that the impurities can be skimmed off. Then, as you look into the bath of your life and the impurities are taken away you can see a reflection. No longer your reflection, but the reflection of Jesus.”
This is what God desperately desires. He wants our life to reflect Jesus, the purest source of anything good, so that our lives begin to resemble Him. That when we look at our lives start to see less and less of us and more and more of Him.