“that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
This reference to “gold tested by fire” finds its origin in several Old Testament passages. The Apostle Peter adapted this imagery to highlight the purifying effect that often accompanies the trials and afflictions we encounter in life. However, we also see this principle at work in other areas of life as well.
For instance, a self-cleaning oven operates at high levels of heat in order to melt away impurities. A similar means of purifying metal involves heating a metallic ore until it reaches a liquid state. Once that ore has been brought to a sufficient temperature, any impurities typically rise to the top. These impurities may then be skimmed away and discarded. The result is a purified metal that offers greater strength and durability than one that had not been treated in this manner.
The heat of a personal trial or affliction also serves to produce a similar effect. This helps explain why the New Testament epistle of James offers the following counsel…
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
James 1:12 later continues by saying, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV). These difficulties often prove useful as an incubator for spiritual growth. They may also serve as the means by which God polishes our character to help us better reflect the image of Christ.
The following commentator ties these concepts together with the idea of being “tested by fire“…
“As someone has well pointed out, fire will destroy what it cannot purify, but it purifies what it cannot destroy… We are passing through the fire which is designed either to destroy that which can be destroyed, or to purify that which can never be destroyed …God is leading us through these trials and through the difficulties of our day, in order that we may learn to cry with old Job, back there in the oldest book of the Bible, ‘He knoweth the way that I take, when he has tried me I shall come forth as gold,’ (Job 23:10 KJV).” (1)
(1) Excerpted with permission from Never Give Up © 1965 by Ray Stedman Ministries. All rights reserved. Visit www.RayStedman.org for the complete library of Ray Stedman material. Please direct any questions to webmaster@RayStedman.org