”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.”
though it is tested by fire
The word “tested” means that by which a thing is approved– test to approve. Trial tests for proof that our faith is genuine. God certifies the worth of our faith by suffering. Our faith is the foundation of all other character qualities we possess. If our faith falters, everything falters.
We put gold into a crucible of fire to determine whether it is genuine (Prov. 8:10; 17:3). God tests, proves, and scrutinizes us by fire so as to decide whether we worthy of his service.
In First Thessalonians 2:4, the Apostle and his fellow–missionaries were “approved of God to be entrusted with the Gospel.” God gives approval for us to preach after putting us to the test.
The Corinthians did not find in Paul the proof of the power that they sought (2 Cor. 13:3). However, Paul reminds the Corinthians that what ultimately counts is not what men think but what God thinks. God’s commendation at the end of the day is what matters, 2 Cor. 10:18 says,
“For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”
God proves the attestation of our lives in affliction. The pressure put on us when we are under strain will either produce endurance or failure. Suffering produces endurance (Rom. 5:3-4). The Macedonians remain both joyous and generous under duress (2 Cor. 8:2). Testing sifts out authentic Christian living (2 Cor. 9:13; 11:19). It attests love for God in giving (2 Cor 8:8).
God sets the believer under his searching eye. We learn his will by testing (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 5:9-10; Phil. 1:10; 1 Th. 5:21). Testing protects the Christian from caprice and brings him into the sphere of God’s will.
When Jesus prayed for Peter, He asked God to strengthen his faith:
“And the Lord said,
‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.’” (Luke 22:31-32).
Now in First Peter, Peter writes about the importance of faith holding up under fire. Our faith improves by trial. The nature of our trial is a fire-test. The trial of faith is more precious than the test for gold already refined.
Here is a double comparison of the trial of gold with the trial of faith. Gold at the time of writing of First Peter was the most valuable of all the metals. Faith is the greatest among Christian values. The trial of faith is of greater value than the test for gold. Both tests purify. The purification of gold separates the dross from the precious metal. The purification of faith separates rubbish from the Christian life.
God uses extreme adversity to force out impurities and the things that are unimportant in our lives.
Peter compares our faith to gold that is precious from the human viewpoint. Suffering sifts out the impurities out of our lives and makes us useful to God. He takes the slag of sin out of our lives. This kind of faith is more valuable than gold.
God does not test our faith in prosperity but in adversity. He kicks out the crutches from our lives. He skims off the slag of dependence on other people, upon our social life, upon health, beauty, sex, or material possessions. These things will not sustain us in times of duress. Good times do not sustain us; only God can keep us standing by his promises.
How many times have we prayed, “Lord, take it away.” God put it there. He wants it there. He desires that we learn to trust Him in adversity. Some people quote First Corinthians 10:13 “but with the temptation will also make the way of escape” with the interpretation that they will “escape” from problems. They want to get out from under the trouble so that it does not hurt anymore. Escape does not prove a thing in God’s eyes.
For some, the only time they think seriously about God is when they are in a jam. If they were honest they would say, “Now God, I’m in this terrible jam. It hurts terribly. Make it stop hurting. Wave your divine wane to make it stop.” They want a God who is a divine pacifier. As soon as the trouble passes, they forget all about Him again.
God’s way of escape is IN suffering. He has designed suffering so that we can know joy while going through trouble. We will get out of the trial sooner or later. But that is not the answer. The answer is what we do while under pressure.