Purity is an area in our lives where it is difficult to be authentic. God calls us to make purity a priority. When we have impurity in our lives, it robs us of our vision and clarity in understanding God. In fact, it robs us of our destiny and spiritual authority. God wants us to live more by character than charisma.
The people who have fame tell us it does not satisfy. I believe we are drawn to fame and pursue fame because we were made for fame. Our Creator hardwired the desire into us. But we have confused the fame for which we were made with the one we know – the one that surrounds us. God formed us for His purpose – primarily to proclaim His praise (Isaiah 43:21). You and I were made for fame, His fame. It is time to aim the influence of our lives in the direction of His glory.
“As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.”Proverbs 27:21 (KJV)
“The purity of gold and silver is tested by putting them in the fire; The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame.”Proverbs 27:21 (MSG)
Silver and gold were identified, separated, and refined from impurities in a fining pot or furnace. There the trial of great heat separated base metals from precious metals. The end result of the hot trial left only the pure metals that were ready to be used for fine jewelry.
‘A little fame’ is a fierce trial for persons (Pro 17:3). If a man has a weak character, ‘a little fame’ will make him proud, cocky, and haughty. If a man has precious character, it will not affect him at all. He will continue in his unpretentious course, glorifying God and being thankful for any good that he might be able to do toward others.
‘A little fame’ creates a tough test of your soul. ‘A little fame’ will reveal what kind of person you are. It will prove a spirit of godly humility or a spirit of devilish pride. Do you crave the praise of men? Does it greatly warm your soul? Or do you know full well it is not quite true? Do you fear it? Do you fully understand that anything you are or have is a gift from God?
Those taught by the Holy Spirit will recognize the great danger in ‘a little fame’. You should carry a sign saying you are combustible, to keep the heat of ‘a little fame’ at a distance. You should fear ‘a little fame’ more than rebuke, for the one bears the good fruits of humility and instruction, and the other may work your ruin by the most pleasant poison. A seed of pride lies active in the most sanctified soul, and just ‘a little fame’ can be enough to water it into speedy and immense growth that will suffocate your fruitfulness and bring judgment.
You have already been warned about ‘a little fame’ in this chapter. First, you were told to let others praise you, making no effort to get the word out yourself (Pro 27:2). Second, you were told that reproves and wounds from friends are better than love and kisses of flattering enemies (Pro 27:5-6). Then you were taught to ignore extreme praise and flattery, for it is more like a curse than a blessing (Pro 27:14).
David, after killing Goliath, could have written his own ticket. Public opinion would have secured him the throne; after all, he had been anointed king (I Sam 16:1-13). But he told Saul he was merely a son of Saul’s servant, Jesse the Bethlehemite (I Sam 17:58). When offered Saul’s daughters, David thought the honor was too high for him (I Sam 18:17-24). He was totally courteous in spite of slavish admiration and won Jonathan’s heart (Pro 22:11).
Most men are not like David. Saul’s envy destroyed him because Israel praised David more than they praised him (I Sam 18:6-11). Absalom, hearing praise throughout his life, used praise to steal the hearts of weak men in Israel (II Sam 14:25; 15:1-6). Proud Herod should have fallen on his face to chide lying lobbyists from Tyre and Sidon (Acts 12:20-23). Diotrephes earned John’s strict reprimand for loving the preeminence (III John 1:9).
Time would fail to write of the golden character of Joseph, Daniel, and the apostles of the Lord Jesus. The first two did not let dignified offices affect their modest and holy spirits. And the latter group, who with miraculous power to heal and resurrect were praised as gods, strongly repudiated any such attention (Acts 3:11-12; 10:25-26; 14:11-18; 28:1-6).
The wise man Agur, though a prophet included in this book of Proverbs, counted himself horribly brutish (Pro 30:1-3). King Solomon thought himself a child without ruling ability in private conversation with God (I Kgs 3:7). And the greatest apostle considered himself less than the least of all saints and the chief of sinners (Eph 3:8; I Tim 1:15).
Consider also the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who left the throne of glory to become a servant among men (Phil 2:5-8). He even requested that His glorious miracles not be spread abroad, for He was not the least interested in the praise of men (Mark 7:36).
Prepare yourself ahead of time, dear reader, so that when the deadly potion of ‘a little fame’ is offered, you may politely and gently direct the attention to heaven, from where all blessings descend. You are nothing without Him, and you should give Him all the glory.