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Proverbs 27:21, As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.
Twice in the book of Proverbs the Lord uses the fining pot and the furnace as examples to give us instruction.
The fining pot takes silver from the rough to the fine.
It is used to separate silver from that which is not silver;
that which is valuable from that which is worthless.
The fining pot tries silver to reveal the dross that it contains and it separates that dross from the silver so a pure silver will result.
The furnace is an instrument that can withstand great heat.
Place gold ore in the furnace and the true gold is melted and separated from that which is worthless and that which does not contribute to the value of the gold.
The furnace discovers whether the gold be genuine and pure.
These instruments are instruments that are used to reveal that which is real from that which is false.
They are discerning instruments. They try the metal to see whether it be false or true.
Were it not for these instruments the dross would continue to cleave to the silver or gold and continue to be impure.
God uses examples of furnaces throughout scripture to show us his refining process in the lives of his people.
In I Kings 8:51, he tells us that Egypt was a refiner's furnace to the children of Israel, For they be thy people, and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron:
The 300 years in Egypt were a finer's pot and a furnace for the children of Israel.
The dross of dependence on the world was burned off to leave only the silver and the gold of complete dependence upon God.
Revelation 1:14, Revelation 2:18, and Revelation 19:12 refer to the eyes of Jesus Christ as eyes as a flame of fire.
These are eyes that burn all that is dross from the sight of his eyes so that all that his eyes see is pure. His eyes are as a finer's pot and a furnace.
Malachi tells us that God is like a refiner's fire and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver:
And he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
As in many proverbs the Lord calls us to think on an object or objects so that we may have a clearer understanding of a principle that he is wanting us to learn.
The phrase in our proverb "so is a man to his praise" is where we will concentrate our attention.
We have a fining pot, we have a furnace.
We have two valuable metals, gold and silver in their natural state; gold ore and silver ore.
We have a man and we have praise that the man receives.
The man then is to be compared to the gold and the silver ore.
Therefore the praise must perform the same function as the fining pot and the furnace.
We are to understand that praise bestowed upon a man discovers that which is prominent in the man. Praise discovers the heart.
The man's reaction to praise reveals the heart of the man to God.
God sees the gold or the silver and he sees the dross.
And praise is the instrument that brings out those things.
The man that is praised is not only approved by man but he is also proved by the praise.
He is tested to see what manner of man he is.
Praise reveals the man whether he be of value as gold or silver or whether he be dross.
Praise will cause the impurities of the man to be revealed or it will reveal the purity of the man.
If a wise and humble man is praised, he will not by the praise be elevated in his own mind.
If the praise that is given him is not a worthy praise or a just praise or an undeserved praise he will not think of it highly.
He will consider it groundless and go his way. It will not puff him up.
Undeserved praise to a wise man may even inspire him to work to deserve the praise.
It may motivate him to improve to that level that others perceive him to be.
But if a wise man is commended justly for good qualities or good actions performed, he remembers that he ought to remember the fact that God is the one who has made him to differ from others.
He realizes that every talent and every ability he enjoys is of God and ought to be ascribed to God. He is always ready to give God the glory.
The glory he gives may not be outwardly shown so others will hear but God looks upon the heart and knows what comes from the heart.
When a man who is not wise is praised for qualities that he may have, or actions that he has done his reaction is turned to dross because he does not turn the praise to God.
Man makes dross but God is in the gold and silver manufacturing business
Remember Herod who gave not God the glory and immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms (maggots), and gave up the ghost.
Praise revealed him as dross and he was eaten up of worms.
A fool is revealed by praise founded only on lies or flattery.
He is in love with himself and all that enhances that relationship is welcome to him.
He loves to have the pre-eminence. So praise may reveal the fool in us to us.
We may call darkness light because it serves to nourish our self-esteem.
We may call the lies of praise truth because it caters to our natural state.
Praise is a revealer to a wise man. It shows his weakness and cautions him to seek God's grace to overcome his foolish way.
The wise man is made more careful learning to bear the honor of any praise he may receive with meekness and humility.
He learns to turn the praise toward God who made him.
God tells us to give honor to whom honor is due.
We are not to give praise when honor is not due. We are not to give lying praise.
We may not realize the injury we do our brother or sister or child when we give praise flippantly without merit or reason.
We are not to supply the fuel to build up the heart with pride.
Most times we are not equipped to evaluate the talents and abilities of others and are unable to justly and honestly praise.
We ought to carefully and with moderation judge each other and be disciplined in our praise giving.
And we ought to be as careful in receiving praise.
Flattery will soften and deceive the wisest heart because it hears what it desires to hear.
The Pharisees loved the praise of men more than the praise of God and it kept their eyes closed to the things of God.
Dangerous chemistry is produced when a proud heart is mixed with flattering lips.
The word of God is full of admonitions to praise God but few admonitions to praise men.
We are to value alone God's, Well Done, thou good and faithful servant for when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.