“A crucible for silver and a furnace for gold, but a man is tested by the praise accorded him.” (Proverbs 27:21)

Our reputations occasionally may be unfairly tarnished when others spread gossip that’s not true, but over time, the judgment of the public opinion rings fairly true. That can be good news or bad news, depending on the opinion.

When precious metals endure the refining process, the ore is heated to the melting point. At intervals, the dross or sludge is skimmed from the top graduating leaving the purified metals. In the same way, the opinions of others are the fire in our lives to separate the noble from selfish, the good from the bad. If we are wise bad reports can be tremendously valuable. If well accept them respond with changes. But if we take ourselves off the fire by excusing our actions and blaming someone else, we won’t learn and we won’t benefit from the heat of criticism.

A good reputation takes time to earn, just as it takes time for the fire to heat ore and slowly purify gold and silver. We need to pay attention to others’ opinions of us, but we should be careful not to weigh everyone’s opinions equally. Place a high value on the perceptions of wise people, but discount the backbiting gossip of angry people or those who flatter to win your approval.

Stay in the heat, learn hard lessons, and let God use the fires of other’s opinions to purify your heart.