Today we are going to focus on Prov. 17:3. I encourage you to read it over several times, then we will consider what it means. The first verse of the chapter focuses on the home: "Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife." The home should be our place of peace and security, a place where we are loved and accepted. Better to be poor and live in that kind of home than be rich and live in a home in constant turmoil. The second verse doesn't have much application to us today, favorably contrasting a wise slave with a child who brings shame to the family.
Now we come to v. 3: "The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, but the Lord tests the heart." A crucible is a ceramic or metal container in which metals, such as silver, or other substances can be melted or exposed to very high temperatures. When silver is mined, it isn't pure - it has worthless material attached to it (other metals, rock, dirt) which needs to be removed. This worthless material is called "dross." The silver, with the dross, are placed into the crucible and melted - this separates them so that the pure silver can be collected. Likewise, gold is placed into a furnace and heated. As the ore melts, the gold sinks to the bottom due to its higher density and the "slag," or impurities, floats on the top. The gold can then be collected. Both of these methods were known and used in ancient times for the collection of pure gold and silver. But how can we know whether a person's heart, even our own, is pure or evil? How do we know when we are acting according to our own pride or according to God's will? The answer is, we don't. We have devised these means of purifying gold and silver, but we have no external means of testing our own heart or the hearts of others. But, Solomon says, God tests our hearts - challenges us - and how we react gives us the answer.
Meditation: Just as exposing gold and silver to very high temperatures isn't "comfortable" for the gold or the silver, so God's means of testing our hearts isn't comfortable for us. Hardships make us learn how to depend on God in all things and allow our faith in God to become stronger, so that we can accomplish God's will for our lives. In our ordinary lives, whatever troubles or difficulties we may face, we are not to complain, become depressed or run away, but believe and trust in a God who loves us. What does this look like in this time of your life?