Friday’s Column: Brent’s Biblical Bytes
While walking down a country gravel road, I often notice the shiny “rocks” glimmering in the sunlight. Upon closer inspection, the mineral can bear a striking resemblance to gold. As a child, I recall becoming excited by this discovery. Blessed with a mother fostering opportunities to learn, I had a chance to put my windfall to the test. She did a little reading herself from our World Book Encyclopedias before heading to the stove with my “gold.”
My mom placed the item under inspection over our gas stove’s flame with the shiny pebble gripped in a set of scissor tongs. As the flame lapped at the material, the smell of sulfur filled the air. The gold-looking material did not melt away but turned bright red; hence, it was pyrite. More specifically, it was iron pyrite. Fire is how you test to see if something is gold or “fool’s gold.”
How do we feel knowing that we, too, are periodically placed into the tongs above the fire? Of course, I mean this metaphorically. Times of testing come, nonetheless. Peter reminds us that these occasions allow us to prove our faith. We are like that gold tested by fire. Note that salvation only follows that testing (1 Peter 1.6-9). We must recall Jesus endured the same fiery trials, yet without sin (Hebrews 2.17-18; 4.14-16). He, of course, leaves us an example to follow (1 Peter 2.21).
Yes, we must endeavor to be gold refined by the fire. If we are lukewarm, like the Laodiceans, Jesus may well advise us to buy refined gold from Him as well (Revelation 3.17-19). The Laodiceans believed themselves prosperous but had pockets full of pyrite. Jesus told them He reproved and disciplined those He loves. So, it is not just the world holding us over the fire. Sometimes we need the Lord’s chastisement to bring about our repentance.
One day we will give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14.12). That is the ultimate test. God will be able to tell if we are gold or pyrite quickly. Those who are refined gold enter into the place He has prepared for the righteous (John 14.1-3). For those found to be pyrite, it is an unquenchable fire (Mark 9.42-48). Whether or not there is also the smell of sulfur as tradition often associates with hell, we still note that Scripture describes it as a place of darkness and the gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13.41-43). It is not where we want to spend eternity. Now is our time to be refined by the fire. Let us strive to ensure that we are Au (gold) and not FeS2 (iron pyrite).