"Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith." (Prov 25:4 NIV)

Just as the dross must be removed from the silver before it can be used, our characters need to be shaped in order to be of use for the Kingdom of God. But how do we do this?

As you read through the history of King David, you see very quickly that he knew how to remove the "dross" -- his enemies -- from God's people. In fact, it was during David's--and later Solomon's--reigns that Israel was at its prime. How did David remove all of Israel's enemies? How did he take a war torn nation and bring it into a time of peace? The answer can be found in the following text: "In the course of time, David …also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought tribute." (2 Sam 8:1-2 NIV)

Basically, David believed in annihilating his enemies, and those he allowed to live were required to becoming his subjects!

The Bible tells us that we, too, are in constant battle, only our battlefield is in the mind. (See Eph. 6:12) How can we subdue all of our spiritual enemies? By following David's example. We need to either annihilate them, or bring them into complete submission.

There are things in our lives that God simply cannot use, and these things must be completely annihilated: "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices." (Col 3:5-10 NIV). God cannot use our anger. He cannot use lies and gossip. He cannot use our unforgiveness, our greed, or our intemperance. He can't use our hatred, or disrespect for life, or our disrespect for others' property. These things must be completely annihilated.

But there are parts of our character that, though negative, can be shaped to His use. Just like David let 1/3rd of the Moabites and brought them into his submission, so God can subdue and use some of our negative character traits. In fact, that's why He created us with them!

An example: God gave me an element of independence, and He gave me a wandering foot. Is this a good thing? Not necessarily, for as a result, I tend to never be 100% satisfied with what I have. I love to travel, and no matter how much I am able to travel, there are always destinations just beyond my reach, and this makes it difficult for me to even enjoy what I am able to see.

But God knew what He was doing. When I was 18 years of age, I had the opportunity to go to Europe as an exchange student for a year. Now, there wasn't anything at that particular point in my life that sounded more fulfilling to my independent, wandering spirit than this idea, and I pursued it until it became reality.

It was a great year, and though I'm sorry to say it didn't calm my wander-lust, it did one thing for me that I will forever be grateful for. I grew up in an upper-middle-class, white, all-American home in Los Angeles. I went to a private school with other upper middle-class children, and when I saw all those poor ethnic people all around me, I couldn't help feeling superior. Don't get me wrong. This wasn't something I learned from parents or teachers, it was simply something that happened!. The trip to Europe opened my eyes up wide. I learned while I was there that my culture wasn't the only one that was worth anything. I learned that those with different skin colours, those of different socio-economic status, those from different cultures, were JUST AS GOOD, IF NOT BETTER than me. My chip came off my shoulder that year, and I thank God for that.

Would that have happened if God hadn't given me a wandering foot and a lust for adventure? Likely not. God used these negative traits for His glory, to help shape me for His kingdom.

Another example. I am, and have always been, a very stubborn person and a control freak. Negative traits? You bet. I can't count the times these two character traits have gotten me into more trouble than I care to tell, and even worse, I can't count the times these two traits have hurt other people. So why did God make me a stubborn control freak? Because when "stubborn" is submitted to God's will, it becomes "Determination"-it becomes something He can use! When I submit my stubbornness completely to His will, I become determined. I don't give up easily. I am not easily discouraged in the face of adversity.

What about control? Friends, when I submit control completely to Him, my natural inclination to be "in control" translates into some good leadership qualities.

I could give dozens of other examples, but the point is, we are asked to reflect Christ's character. In order to do that, we need to completely do away with most of our negative traits, and the rest of them need to be brought 100% into submission. Only then can we be fully refined, fully usable in His hands!

In His love,

Lyn

Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org  .