Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 27:21
"The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold, and each is tested by the praise accorded him"
What very few people realize is that the measure of how they handle praise and success and fame determines how much more God will allow them to have.
Solomon is saying that just as silver and gold are heated to have the impurities rise to the surface, so God allows people to be praised so that their pride will rise to the surface. Your pride must be dealt with or it will get in the way of your usefulness to God and even to yourself.
While each person is important and uniquely gifted, each person is also just one piece in the whole. Each of us is like the offensive lineman who must do his part or the play will not succeed. The difficulty is that we all see ourselves as the quarterback or the running back. We all want to see ourselves as the most important person in every play. Even if in an isolated arena we are the most important person, in the grander scheme of the whole world and the work of justice, righteousness, mercy, and the like, we are just one small piece. We have our part to play, and we should do what we do with the best of our ability. But we should not get puffed up with a feeling of self-importance.
Are you able to handle praise and still keep a proper perspective about your importance in the world? I remember a very famous pastor speaking to the seminary I attended, and he said the greatest threat to your future success in ministry is your past success. Don't let your pride derail you from being used mightily by God. Realize that every success that you have ever enjoyed is the result of hundreds of contributions of God and others into your life in the past. As one person said, "If you see a turtle on a fence post you know it didn't get there by itself."
God is allowing you to be tested. He is allowing you to be praised. He is allowing you to be successful. Keep your feet on the ground. Realize that by God's grace you have had a measure of success. It doesn't make you better than others. It doesn't make you exempt from hard work. Keep loving others. Keep loving others first and thinking more highly of others than you do yourself or God may turn off the river of your success.
Pride is a deadly infection. It chokes off success. It creates bigotry and hatred. It turns God into your enemy.