(Prov 27:21 ERV) People use fire to purify gold and silver. In the same way, you are tested by the praise people give you.
We continue our “Gleanings from the Proverbs. When I first read this verse this I immediately made the connection between the fire and being tested. Many messages have been preached about the fires of life. If that were what this verse is about I would have entitled it, “What do you do when the heat is on?” Without question, life is full of heated and pressure-packed situations. As a matter of fact, earlier this week I listened to a sermon where the preacher was dealing with the pressures of life. After listening to the sermon I tweeted about pressure and how we must all be able to handle the pressures of life when they come. But that’s not what this verse is about. While Solomon does teach, in other proverbs, that we will be tested by pressure, here he gives us another test, a harder test… being tested by praise.
Look at this verse again, There is no hotter crucible to test a man than when he is put through a fire of praise and adulation. To go on through evil report, cleaving to the Lord, and counting on Him to clear one’s name is comparatively easy, though many faint in such circumstances; but to humbly pursue the even tenor of his way, undisturbed and unlifted up by applause and flattery, marks a man as being truly with God. We have all been in situations that were too big for us, that left us feeling inadequate, and that forced us to completely rely on God. Looking to God in the times of trouble is no mystery for the average believer. Most of us have called on the name of the Lord when the heat was on. But what about when the heat is not on? What about the days when things are going well? What about the occasions when you are placed on a pedestal, acknowledged for your accomplishments, praised for your work, and rewarded for your actions? Can you handle that? In other words, can you handle success? You have prayed incessantly for God to bless you, but can you handle it when He does? Can you stand to be blessed without forgetting the one who blessed you? Can you receive the praise without allowing yourself to cross over into pride? Can you receive the applause without getting arrogant?
So what does this mean to us today? Two things:
1. Handling pressure is difficult: We all face pressures in life. We all have situations that seemingly bring us to our knees. When the pressure is on, you can find confidence in knowing that you can handle it. If you are facing it, then the Father trusts you with it. You will never face something that you cannot overcome by His grace.
2. Handling praise is dangerous. While the natural reaction to facing pressure is to run to God, sometimes people don’t have the same reaction when they receive praise. Instead of acknowledging the God who blessed them to get there and deflecting some of the glory back to Him, many make the mistake of taking all the glory. If you fail to acknowledge God you will allow praise to get you over into pride and if you do, it won’t be long before you fall and fail.