The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.
Silver and gold are isolated from ore and made better by fire. Heat burns away dross and base metals to leave pure silver or gold, fit for a jeweler (Pr 25:4). Only the LORD can prove and purify your heart in such a way – by the fiery furnace of afflictions and trials.
Men prove, assay, or refine the precious metals silver and gold. But they cannot equally prove, assay, or refine the heart of man. They use a fining pot for proving silver, and they use a furnace for refining gold, but a man’s heart is not as accessible or as improvable.
Your heart is deceitful above all things, and it is desperately wicked. No man can truly know the faults in his own heart (Jer 17:9-10; Ps 19:12). So the LORD tries the hearts to reveal what is there, and He rewards accordingly (I Kgs 8:39). No man can escape the all-seeing eyes of Him with Whom we have to do (Heb 4:12-14; Rev 1:14; 2:18; 19:12).
The Bible speaks often of God refining His saints (Job 23:10; Is 1:25). Jesus came as a Refiner; His fire burned up His enemies and purified new priests for offering acceptable sacrifices to God (Mal 3:1-5). The fiery trials He sends may make your heart heavy, but they make your faith stronger (I Pet 1:6-7). He brings His people through the fire to perfect them (Zech 13:9). And from them He chooses His favored jewels (Mal 3:16-18).
The LORD can quickly find what is in your heart. He knows your worst fears, your strongest temptations, your secret fantasies, your weakest moments, your trigger points, and the sins that easily beset you. He can prove, assay, or refine you easily. Tremble before Him! Worship Him! Humble yourself to Him before He humbles you under Him.
God uses the furnace of affliction to try your faith by adversity (Is 48:10). He uses the furnace of infirmity to build reliance on His grace (II Cor 12:9-10). God uses the furnace of temptation to measure obedience (Gen 22:1-2; Heb 11:17-19). He uses the furnace of prosperity or praise to measure your humility and priorities (Deut 32:15; Pr 27:21).
Do you know what God did to the great king Hezekiah? He left him – one of the most frightening things God can do to a man. God left Hezekiah to expose what was in his heart (II Chr 32:31). What was discovered by this refining method? Hezekiah was foolishly proud due to God’s merciful extension of his life by fifteen years (II Chr 32:25).
God turned David over to Satan, and he numbered Israel, costing 70,000 lives but bringing great glory to God and deep humility to David (II Sam 24:1; I Chron 21:1). Jesus did the same thing to Peter, and he learned a great lesson by it (Luke 21:31-34; John 21:15-17). Both David and Peter were better for their refining by the Lord’s hand.
Afflictions and temptations are painful, but they are for God’s glory and your profit and perfection, if you respond to them rightly. God inspired the Bible with both instructions and illustrations from others’ lives to help you respond correctly (Rom 15:4; Jas 5:11).
How can gold be found without fire? How can it be purified without heat? Only by the Lord’s fiery furnace can you be purged of secret sins, fear of man, attraction to the world, pride, trust in others, excessive love of others, self-righteousness, and other sinful dross. Only by the furnace is your faith, love, and hope purified and made better. The process is painful; the results are glorious. Dear reader, submit your heart to His fire (Ps 139:23-24).
With wisdom, you should rejoice in fiery trials, knowing they are perfecting you (Jas 1:2-4; Rom 5:3-5). You will recognize their great profit; you will not consider them strange; you will even pray for God to examine and prove you (Ps 26:2; 119:67,71,75; I Pet 4:12). You will follow the prescribed methods to purify your own heart (Jas 4:8-10; II Cor 7:1).
The LORD is the most skilled of refiners; He will not lose one ounce, one dram, or one grain of His gold in the furnace. Trust Him, afflicted believer. His trials will end in mercy (Ps 66:8-17; Job 5:11); His chastening is in tender affection (Heb 12:10-11; Rev 3:19).