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A Fiery Crucible for Your Heart

CrucibleIn one of Tom Cruise’s newest movies, The Edge of Tomorrow, there is a line that gets repeated multiple times and really serves as the underlying plot as well as the big takeaway. Cage plays a soldier who winds up repeating a battle over and over… and over again, learning from his mistakes each time. His commanding officer, Master Sergeant Farell, tells him on the morning of every repeat that, “Glorious combat (is) the fiery crucible, where the only true heroes are forged.”

That line reminded me of another, from King Solomon, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3 ESV)

And sometimes, we have to go through the same battles repeatedly until we really listen and learn what it is that God wants to teach us. While God never tempts us with sin, He certainly allows us to endure various trials that act as a crucible where impurities and distractions are removed from our lives. And as Job concluded from the trials he endured, “But He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” (Job 23:10 ESV)

We don’t like to go through difficulty right now, but God’s perspective goes way beyond right now. He’s concerned with our character for all eternity to come.

Praise: Life’s Toughest of Tests

Refiner's FireJesus’ followers are constantly being tested – not in the sense that He’s trying to make us fail, but in the sense that He’s preparing us to pass. He tests us through trials and troubles, just as a craftsman “tries” or purifies metals in intense and melting heat. But the toughest of tests isn’t loneliness or loss. It isn’t suffering. It’s praise.

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” ~ [youversion]Proverbs 27:21 NLT[/youversion]

Success brings its own test, and it’s often much more difficult to pass than the test of suffering. Think about it. How many mistakes have you made in your life as a result of hoping everyone around you continues to like you? We avoid painful truth. We become in authentic. We allow pride to creep in, which “goes before destruction.”

If we’re not careful, we will actually begin to believe all the good things others are saying about us in our moments of success. When this happens, we’re in danger of believing that we’re untouchable or incapable of failure. Great heroes are forged in the fires of suffering and I wouldn’t diminish the role of suffering in the believer’s life. But if death to self is the key to discipleship, then death to criticism and to praise is necessary.

We’re living in an age where too many leaders have too much success too early, and too little character to prepare them for handling the spotlight. If you’re in a spot in life where everyone is singing your praises, guard your heart all the more aggressively against pride. Withstand this test, stay humble, keep a right perspective on self in relation to God and you’ll come forth as gold!

Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson