Gold!

 …Now for a short time different kinds of troubles may make you sad. These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold. Gold can be proved to be pure by fire, but gold can be destroyed. But the purity of your faith will bring you praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ comes again. (I Peter 1:6-7, ICB)

Throughout history, gold has been viewed as valuable. It contains an array of unique and beautiful colors. It absorbs light, which makes it appear to shine. It is rare enough to be special, but still possible to find. It is hard to locate and extract from the earth in large quantities. It does not corrode. It is malleable and can be formed into different shapes. When melted, it can be poured into forms and stamped for practical uses, like money, or admired in jewelry and decor. It does not react with other elements, allowing it to retain its beauty over time. The purer a piece of gold is, the more valuable it is.

God compares our faith to gold. Faith is beautiful. It shines. It is relatively rare. It is hard to find on the earth in large quantities. It does not corrode. It is malleable. Faith is practical but also admirable. It retains its beauty over time. The purer faith is, the more valuable it is.

Gold can be proved to be pure by fire. Raw gold has other elements mixed in with it. It is purified by being heated by fire or electricity, then introducing a chemical that pulls out the impurities (non-gold components).

These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. God compares the process of refining our faith to refining gold. Trials are the heat that is applied to our faith. They bring ungodly beliefs, thoughts, and actions to the surface so they can be removed from our lives. The result in God’s children is far more life — a purer faith that is a better reflection of God.

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. (Proverbs 17:3, NIV)

This purity of faith is worth more than gold. This seems like a strange comparison, comparing seemingly-intangible faith with tangible gold. But our faith results in actions. It shapes our decisions. It permeates every aspect of our lives. That makes it tangible. Our faith is real to God, too. It is valuable to Him. He will use one of earth’s most valuable elements — gold — to make the streets in Heaven (Revelation 21:21). Those streets will be beautiful, but our faith is infinitely more beautiful and valuable in God’s economy!

Gold can be destroyed. Humans do not know how to destroy gold. We can dilute its purity, but it still exists. We can dissolve it with chemicals, but that only causes it to disperse further. Perhaps God can destroy gold by some power or force that is not available to us. The Greek word that was translated “destroyed”, apollymenou, can mean “to no longer serve the use for which they were designed”, so perhaps that is a better interpretation. Using either meaning — destroy or make unusable — these verses contrast gold’s destructibility with our faith. There is no trial that can destroy genuine faith. Nothing can cause it to stop serving its purpose in our lives. In fact, our faith leads to eternal life:

For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1:9, NIV)

Here are other Bible verses that use gold to illustrate a spiritual lesson:

The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (Psalm 119:72, NIV)

Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 8:10-11, NIV)

God’s guidelines for life are more precious than gold! They offer value for both this life and the next one.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. (Acts 3:6-7, NIV)

The lame man did not recognize Peter possessed something more valuable than gold. Peter looked beyond the man’s obvious need and met his deepest need. God’s work in our lives is also precious and priceless!

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. (I Corinthians 3:11-13, NIV)

The writer uses physical building materials as an analogy for the components of our lives. Some, like gold, are valuable investments of our time and energy that God will reward when we reach Heaven. Others are not deemed valuable by God and will not gain us anything in Heaven. Far more life builds with gold!

Sisters,
What aspect of gold is most appealing to you? How do you see that aspect in your faith?
How have trials refined your faith? What impurities have they exposed and removed?
What is your reaction to the claim that faith is valuable? Do you value it more than gold?
Are there areas of your life where your faith seems unusable? Ask God to help you see how faith can add value in those areas.
Where are you using gold to build your life? What is not gold that could be?
Thank God for the richness of faith and far more life that accompanies it!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso

Shine Your Mirror

Far more life requires an understanding of who we are in relationship to God. An unrealistic view of Him or ourselves robs us of the richness He offers. From time to time it is good to stop and reflect on who we are in Christ, how God viewed us before we accepted Christ as our Savior, and what He has promised His children. We can think of it as “shining our spiritual mirror” to remove the impurities — wrong perceptions, false beliefs, faulty thoughts — that have clouded our view. A freshly shined spiritual mirror offers far more life — a clearer image of God and who we are in Christ.

Ephesians is a great “mirror shining” book. The first three chapters remind us of our identity in Christ. The last three chapters tell us how to put that truth into practice. Some friends and I spent last week reading Ephesians, one chapter a day, and sharing our thoughts. We had wonderful virtual fellowship as we shined our mirrors. You can do the same! Recruit some friends to join you on this journey or share your comments here to connect with others pursuing far more life.

Here are the truths about myself and God from those chapters that I want to wholeheartedly embrace and live out:

  • I am one of God’s holy people, a saint. (1:1)
  • I am faithful in Christ Jesus. (1:1)
  • I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (1:2)
  • God chose me! Before the creation of the world, he chose me. (1:4)
  • I am holy and blameless before Him. (1:4)
  • He predestined me for adoption into His family. (1:5)
  • He has freely given me His glorious grace. (1:6)
  • I have been redeemed, my sins forgiven, by Jesus’ blood. (1:7)
  • He lavished the riches of His grace on me. (1:7-8)
  • He shared the mystery of His will with me. (1:9)
  • I am marked with the Holy Spirit; He is a seal — a promise — guaranteeing my inheritance, a deposit on my future. He will stay with me until I am with God in Heaven. (1:11-14)
  • God wants me to know Him. (1:17)
  • I have been called to hope. (1:18)
  • He has a rich inheritance for me. (1:18)
  • He shows incomparably great power to me. (1:19)
  • I am part of the body of Christ, His church. (1:23)
  • I was dead because of my sin, an object of God’s wrath. But God made me alive with Christ! (2:1-5)
  • God raised me up and seated me with Christ in the heavenly realms. (2:6)
  • He will continue showing me grace and kindness through the ages to come. (2:7)
  • I have been given the gift of salvation through God’s grace. (2:8)
  • I am God’s workmanship, His masterpiece. (2:10)
  • I was created to do the good works that God prepared for me in advance. (2:10)
  • I have been brought near to God through Christ’s blood. (2:13)
  • Jesus is my peace, He unites me with others who love Him. (2:14, 16)
  • I am reconciled with God through the cross of Christ. (2:16)
  • I have access to my Father, God, through Christ. (2:18)
  • I used to be an alien and a stranger, but now I am a member of God’s household, His family. (2:19)
  • I am part of a bigger group of Jews and Gentiles who have become a dwelling place for God’s Spirit. (2:22)
  • I can approach God with freedom, boldness, and confidence. (3:12)
  • His Spirit gives me power in my inner being. (3:16)
  • Christ lives in my heart. (3:17)
  • I have power to grasp God’s love, to understand how wide and long and high and deep it is, even though that love surpasses knowledge. (3:17-19)
  • I can be filled completely with God. (3:19)
  • God’s power, which is more than I can ask or imagine, is at work within me. (3:20)

So much rich truth in these chapters! Remembering all those truths would enable us to always walk in far more life with a sparkling clean mirror. But our limited hearts and minds may need time to absorb them one at a time and shine our mirrors bit by bit.

I attended a conference recently that helped me shine one corner of my spiritual mirror. I was challenged to think of the theme verse in a whole new way:

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)

To bring this verse to life, we were each given a postcard with an abstract picture on it. Each postcard was unique, with different colors and patterns, just as each person was unique, with different skills, interests, and spiritual gifts. But when we put all the cards together, they created a literal masterpiece, an image of a famous painting. The speaker pointed out that each person who follows Christ — from the first disciples recorded in the gospels to the last saints remaining alive when Christ returns — has a unique role to play in building God’s kingdom. But everyone needs to add their part in order for the masterpiece to be complete. We are each important, but we are also part of God’s bigger and more important masterpiece: fulfilling His purpose and bringing Him the glory He deserves. It was a wonderful reminder to value ourselves as God does, not too highly and not too lowly, and to find the work He has planned for us.

We experience far more life when our mirrors are shined so we can see both our immense value to God and our role in His bigger purpose. Both are required to see ourselves and God clearly. Both are necessary for far more life.

Sisters,
Does your “spiritual mirror” need to be shined? Is it showing God and you accurately?
Read Ephesians 1, 2, and 3 this week — alone or with friends — and list the truths you see about God and yourself. (You are welcome to comment here.)
Which truth do you want to focus on absorbing right now? Spend time reading it in different translations, looking up related verses, memorizing it, working through your doubts about it — whatever you need to do to imprint it clearly in your mind.
Enjoy far more life as you see yourself and God through a cleaner spiritual mirror!
-Shari

Copyright 2020, Shari Damaso