Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Proverbs 27:14-27 (ESV)
14 Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing. 15 A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; 16 to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand. 17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. 18 Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored. 19 As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man. 20 Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. 21 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise. 22 Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his folly will not depart from him. 23 Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, 24 for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generation? 25 When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, 26 the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. 27 There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.
I think the wise thing to do would be to let you deal with verse 15 on your own! But verses 17 through 22 give us wisdom to understand adversity and trials. Verse 17 highlights that just as iron is used to sharpen other pieces of iron to make a sharp knife or sword that is far more useful, we can also sharpen and strengthen each other. But that sharpening is not soft and easy and might include pain, struggle, and discipline. Similarly, verse 21 illustrates that how we respond to praise is a test that can make us better just as precious metals are made better through their refining processes. It is nice to receive praise, but how do you respond to praise? Do you accept it humbly using it as recognition that your hard work and character is paying off and as encouragement to continue to do the same? Or do you use praise to inflate your ego and hold yourself higher than others? God only disciplines those He loves so that they might grow and become stronger just as parents discipline their children (Proverbs 3:11-12, Hebrews 12:5-6).