Tempered by God

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Tempered by God

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Western culture seems to be fascinated by historical eras and fantasy worlds where kingdoms were ruled by the strength of swords and arrows. Just look at our enduring obsession with Arthurian legend or the epic adventures woven into the fictional works of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

If we actively seek obedience to our Creator, God continues to work with us, applying the appropriate temperature at key points in our lives to forge us into a sturdy and useful tool in His hands—one that will withstand the tests of time.

A sword wielded in the name of truth and justice takes on a noble quality; it becomes a tool to defeat evil. Swords are a prominent symbol in Christianity. They are woven into our concept of the words that we strive to live by on a daily basis. Paul mentions “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 Ephesians 6:17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
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You’ve probably seen or read many stories with sword-wielding heroes, but have you ever thought about how a blacksmith prepares a sword? Blacksmithing today is an increasingly more rare art, and sword-making knowledge is uncommon. But in our age of information, it’s easy to find descriptions of this impressive skill: that of forging metal into a tool.

Every sword needs to be tempered, which Dictionary.com defines as “the degree of hardness and strength imparted to a metal, as by quenching, heat treatment, or cold working.” Wikipedia’s description of tempering adds: “Tempering is a heat treatment applied … to achieve greater toughness by decreasing the hardness of the alloy … accomplished by controlled heating of the quenched work-piece to a temperature below its ‘lower critical temperature’ … Heating above this temperature is avoided, so as to not destroy the very-hard, quenched microstructure. Precise control of time and temperature during the tempering process is crucial to achieve the desired balance of physical properties.”

Taking this into the realm of spiritual analogy, God works with us through our lifelong conversion process as a blacksmith does in preparing a blade for use. He knows just the right amount of heat or coolness to apply to our lives at the optimal time to deepen our strength (1 Corinthians 10:13 1 Corinthians 10:13There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.
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). After all, He knows us much better than we know ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9-10 Jeremiah 17:9-10 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
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; Hebrews 4:12-13 Hebrews 4:12-13 12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
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All analogies only go so far. Unlike a sword in a blacksmith’s hand, we have a very active role to play in our own tempering process by the choices we make throughout the course of each day.

Thankfully God shows us how to make right choices—how to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 Deuteronomy 30:19-20 19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live: 20 That you may love the LORD your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may hold to him: for he is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
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). His molding and finishing us can seem painful at times, but it shows His love for us, for which we can be very thankful (Hebrews 12:6 Hebrews 12:6For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and whips every son whom he receives.
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; 1 Thessalonians 5:18 1 Thessalonians 5:18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
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). Through daily prayer, study and meditation on His Word, we come to embody the life that applied that Word to the fullest extent: Jesus Christ (John 1:1 John 1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
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). He lived in complete obedience to His Father, teaching us how to more fully do so throughout His earthly ministry (John 13:34 John 13:34A new commandment I give to you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
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; John 14:15 John 14:15If you love me, keep my commandments.
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; John 15:10 John 15:10If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
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; Matthew 5:17-19 Matthew 5:17-19 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
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If we actively seek obedience to our Creator, God continues to work with us, applying the appropriate temperature at key points in our lives to forge us into a sturdy and useful tool in His hands—one that will withstand the tests of time. Not only that, but He also beautifies us through the engraving process, writing His law on our hearts now and extending that opportunity to all others in time (Hebrews 8:10 Hebrews 8:10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
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; 1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
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May each of us only grow stronger as we trust the hands of our Creator in shaping us into what we were always meant to become.