From Linda Lindsey
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3
Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Romans 16:10 (a)
See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. Isaiah 48:10
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Romans 16:17-18
Paul ends his letter to the Romans with a list of personal greetings to friends and fellow workers in the Lord. Paul commends these servant-hearted men and women, tireless workers all, who have faithfully given their resources, time, and energies into furthering the Gospel. Some had suffered imprisonment or risked their own life in service to Paul and the Lord. Paul, grateful for these beloved sisters and brothers in the Lord, commends them for their selfless service of love and hospitality, help and nurture. Paul’s friends and fellow saints served God in a spirit of unity and truth, having been tested and approved in Christ.
Silver and gold metals are subjected to extremely high heat so as to remove the impurities and unwanted elements. Silver, melted in a container, a crucible, under intense heat, undergoes a process of releasing dross or slag, which is skimmed away leaving a pure, useable metal. This is next poured into a mold, creating a new vessel. Just as the liquid silver is transformed into a new vessel, so we too become transformed in the intense heat of trials and afflictions. We become more Christlike in our character and our conduct.
Next Paul warns us about those whose motives are totally opposite, those who cause division and dissension in the Church by their false teaching and selfish behavior, putting their own interests ahead of God’s. They deceive others by their smooth talk and flattery, leaving confusion and disunity in their wake. The Lord, the tester of hearts, will not be deceived. God refines. God tests. Heed Paul’s warning: watch out for those who cause division, dissension, disunity. That is the way of deception. Paul’s friends served God having been tested and approved in Christ. Let the same be said about us