Several generations ago, people had silver items in their homes. Such things were passed down and always displayed with reverence and a little pride. My paternal grandparents were of that generation. They passed away when I was a child, but I still have vivid memories of their home. They were the generation that came through World War II and started a family after the war ended. Through their years of marriage, my Papa worked hard, and they added to the silver collection. Two of the pieces that I remember the most were a pair of silver candlesticks. They sat on a buffet table that I now have in my home. I always remember them being so brilliant in the lights of the dining room.
The years passed, and they both went home to Heaven, and as the estate was settled, those candlesticks showed up in our home. My mother was determined to honor them and take care of the items that had been passed down to us. This is when I learned a fascinating truth about silver. It must be polished, or it will tarnish; and a tarnished silver candlestick was not something to look at with awe—it actually made it look like junk. To polish the silver was a long and tedious task, involving a polishing cream that needed to be rubbed on to remove the tarnish. Then the candlestick would need to be rinsed under warm water to remove the cream, after which it would need to be dried with a soft cloth to remove any water and prevent water spots.
As you can now fathom, this was a long process and not one that anyone cherished doing. About this time, I entered my preteen years and began the practice of talking back to my parents. In my meager number of years, I had gained the wisdom of the ages and of course knew as much, if not more, than they. Thus began my years of polishing the silver. It was the chosen punishment for my sassing or talking back. I had a lot of sass in me; henceforth, I polished A LOT of silver. This punishment took time, which allowed my feelings of righteous anger for my miserable lot in life to transform into a realization of my error. In order to get those silver candlesticks to shine, I had to remove the tarnish. This was not an easy job.
Proverbs 25:4 says, “Take away the dross from the silver and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.” I realize that the removal of dross is during the smelting process, but when I read this recently, I could not help remembering removing the tarnish from those candlesticks. The dross is a picture of sin, and when it is removed the silver can go to the “finer,” which is the person that shapes it into something of value. When we ask Jesus to forgive us and place our faith in Him, we become ready for the Finer, Who will mold and shape our lives for His glory. Once the vessel has been molded, attention still needs to be given to ensure that tarnish will not obscure the beauty and value of the vessel.
My parents still have those candlesticks, and my mother continues the tradition of keeping them bright and shining. I cannot look at them without remembering the labor that went into the candlesticks. The polishing (daily removal of sin and walking with God) keeps us (the vessels) a testament to the glory of God. Polishing takes time; it is not always convenient, but it is of utmost importance if we are to be a testimony for the glory of God.
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Mrs. Chung grew up around the work of the ministry and now has the privilege of teaching at the North Valley Baptist Schools. She and her husband faithfully teach young people and are a vital asset to the ministry of NVBC.