Here’s a verse that has a variety of interpretations:
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,
But the LORD tests the hearts.
Until recently, my interpretation of this verse relied on the refining process – heat is applied to the gold or silver in a melting pot, which causes imperfections to rise to the top. The imperfections are removed, leaving a more pure form of the metal.
If the imperfections are left there, the precious metal is actually obscured by something inferior. You wouldn’t know by casual observation that there is something valuable underneath.
The metaphorical lesson is that when life “turns up the heat,” imperfections in our character are often brought to the surface. We need to let God remove them, so that we become refined. (And if you don’t let Him remove the imperfections, they become a lot more noticeable.)
It’s a good metaphor. Lately, though, my Bible study has been focused on seeing things from God’s point of view – what He says about us. So let’s use another definition instead of “tests” in that verse: The Lord proves the heart (He demonstrates what is really inside):
When the trials and pressures of life make our imperfections more obvious, let’s let God show us what’s really underneath – the original blueprint, the version that was brought to life when Jesus rose from the grave. And not just brought to life, but joined to Him: We are in Christ, and Christ is in us, and we are in the Father. Our lives are meant to prove to the world that Jesus is who He said He is. (John 17:21)
Let’s acknowledge the finished work of the Cross, and eagerly seize the life we were created to live – “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27)