Some of the proverbs make me laugh outloud. Especially the ones about the quarrelsome wife. I’m sure old Solomon had his share of quarrelsome wives.
Some of the proverbs are puzzles to me. I find myself reading and re-reading those and even then I’m not sure what they mean.
Others grab me by the throat. They convict me and drive me to my knees.
And sometimes a proverb will stop me in my tracks. It’s like I’ve never seen it before or thought about God’s truth in that light. Like today.
I know we are tested every day. Things happen and our reaction to those things measure our faith in the Lord. They measure our commitment, our belief. But I guess I pictured those tests as the bad things that happen. The big things like illness, loss of job, infidelity, death. Or smaller things like gossip, my reaction to the slow driver on the road ahead.
In Proverbs 27:21 Solomon says… The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.
Did I misread that? We are tested by praise? What?
Is it hard for you to accept a compliment? Sometimes I think Christians believe it’s a sin, or prideful to admit when we are able to do something well. Maybe we fail the test if we deny what God has gifted us with.
I don’t think Solomon means we are to deny our God-given gifts. But I also know God doesn’t want us bragging about them, either. 27:2 says… Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.
It says LET another praise you. People tell my nephew all the time that he is a good baseball player. My sister is often complimented for being a good nurse’s aide. Are they to deny those gifts because they are Christians? I used to receive praise for my ability to play the clarinet. Was I wrong to say, thank you?
There is a difference between being prideful and arrogant, and being humbly aware of the blessing God has given us. Maybe passing the test isn’t always minimizing our gifts or denying them. Maybe passing the test is acknowledging God’s hand in our accomplishments. Just maybe we can actually pass this test without letting praise go to our heads.
Remember, God didn’t gift you with an ability because you are so special. He gifted you with that gift so he can use it to reveal himself to those who benefit from your gift.
Can you sing? Then get out there and sing for the Lord. Can you make friends easily? Then do it and give God the glory. Are you a good policeman, speaker, lawn mower, artist, parent, teacher, cook, mechanic, writer… whatever! Do it for the Lord.
And when someone says you’ve done a good job or recognizes your talent, accept the praise humbly, graciously, and thankfully. And point them to your Savior, the giver of gifts. That’s what he had in mind all along when he gave you that gift, anyway.
God, I pray that your people will be aware of the tests that come our way today. Whether trials by fire or by praise I pray that you will find us faithful, that we would pass the test with flying colors and that others will see you in what we do and say. Thank you for gifting each of us with something special. Help us to use those things with confidence and for your glory.