The specific application is to a king and the character and quality of his counselors. But I can’t help but think that, for those who have ears to hear, the words of the sage, Solomon, also carry deep, personal implications. That the principle applied to kings is no less true of us as individuals. So that, if our desire really is to be “a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work” (2Tim. 2:21 ESV), then, along the way, we should expect some dross removal.
Take away the dross from the silver,
and the smith has material for a vessel;
take away the wicked from the presence of the king,
and his throne will be established in righteousness.
(Proverbs 25:4-5 ESV)
Material that’s fit for use. Silver with which the craftsman is pleased to make a “fine chalice” (MSG). That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.
The “material” of our lives was purchased at great cost, with the blood of Christ. Though just unrefined raw ore, we were redeemed so that the image in which we were created might actually be reflected through our lives. And in order for that to happen, in order for raw silver to reflect another’s glory, it needs to be refined, the impurities taken away. And dross removal implies some heat.
The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts.
(Proverbs 17:3 ESV)
Many are the ways the LORD tests the heart. Many the circumstance that turns up the heat and proves if we really believe what we say we believe. Many are the experiences which reveal what’s really going on within the inner person. And often, what is revealed are the impurities, the dross, the junk. They bubble to the surface and it is the Refiner’s delight to skim the junk away through the finished work of His Son. Ours is to recognize it, repent of it, and receive again the cleansing freely offered because of Calvary.
But honestly, who likes the heat? Who enjoys the fires that purify, much less the remaining dregs of the old nature they reveal? Not this guy.
But who doesn’t want to be silver the Artisan is pleased to shape? Who doesn’t want to be a vessel fit for the Master’s use? Having been claimed by God as a trophy of grace because of our standing in Christ, who doesn’t want to be on display, as He pleases, in order to mirror, to some degree, the image of His Son?
So we need to be prepared for dross removal. God graciously revealing impediments to running the race. The Refiner allowing the heat to be turned up so that it might surface “everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1 NIV), that we might lay it aside through His provision and by His Spirit.
We need to be prepared for the fire, ready for it to reveal the stuff we’d just as soon not have revealed. By His grace, praying the psalmist’s prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23-24). Trusting that He who allows the heat to be turned up, will also sustain us through the fiery trial that He might bring forth the stuff He is pleased to continue to craft for His purposes.
Not sure acknowledging dross removal makes it any easier to be in the refining pot. But knowing the Refiner does. Knowing His love, His heart, and His plans for us, tells us it’s gonna be worth it all.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1Peter 1:6-7 ESV)
By His grace. For His glory.