Here is the sermon for Wednesday, January 7th, 2009. This is part of the Wednesday night series going through the Book of Proverbs.

Everyday Wisdom part 16
Spiritual inventory
Proverbs 17:3

I worked for nine years for Walmart. I started overnight in the Grocery department and then moved to overnight Dairy, then one day I got moved up to the Dairy Department Manager. My responsibilities was instock, price changes correction of onhands, and of course inventory. I couldn’t really get started on inventory until the night before. I had to count each individual case in my cooler, and put it on a sheet with the upc number for the inventory people to key in. It was a lot of work.

Well, tonight we are going to be looking at another kind of inventory, and this is a spiritual inventory.

The definition that we are going with for inventory tonight is, “to take stock of; evaluate: to inventory one’s life and accomplishments.”

Let’s look at our Scripture text tonight.

Proverbs 17:3 HCSB – A crucible is for silver and a smelter for gold, but the LORD is a tester of hearts.

The test for silver and gold for purity is the crucible or smelter. They would heat up the pieces and let them melt. As they melted, the impurities would rise to the top, so that they could be removed and after cooling off, all that would remain would be the pure silver or gold. So the purpose of the heat was to remove the impurities.

God does what a crucible and a smelter cannot do. He tests the hearts of people. The purpose of this test is not to see if we can pass the test or not, but in Hebrew, the word for “tester” here is very similar to purification by fire. It is a test that exposes the sin and foolishness in the believer’s life so that it can be removed and the believer might be purified.

So our main point for tonight’s sermon is: The Lord tests the inventory in our hearts so that He might expose and remove that which should not be there.

Before we go into the heart of our sermon in Proverbs 17, let’s just look at a couple of New Testament passages that bear this testing out.

1 Corinthians 13:5 HCSB – Test yourselves [to see] if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do you not recognize for yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless you fail the test.

We are to first test ourselves. Many people claim to be followers of Jesus, but how many take inventory of their lives to see if His fruit is there, if they are not just paying Him lip service? So there is a testing that we must do ourselves to see if we are in the faith.

1 Peter 1:6-7 ISV – 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you have to suffer various kinds of trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, which is more valuable than gold that perishes when it is tested by fire, may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

The gold that is tested by fire is temporal so it will eventually fade away. The genuineness of our faith is eternal and will never fade away in the midst of trials.

Now let’s look at some ways that our lives can go through this spiritual inventory test tonight.

Who do you listen too?

Proverbs 17:4 HCSB – A wicked person listens to malicious talk; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.

Here the Bible states a powerful truth, if you listen to malicious talk and destructive words, you are a wicked person and a liar.

There are people both in the world and in our churches who just love to spread rumors, gossip and lies. But even a greater problem is those who enjoy listening to destructive words against another believer.

There is just way to much talk and listening to talk within the church – period. Do you enjoy listening to all the bad someone says about someone of faith? Then you are not passing the test, repent.

What do you rejoice over?

Proverbs 17:5 HCSB – The one who mocks the poor insults his Maker, and one who rejoices over disaster will not go unpunished.

To mock the poor means that you are enjoying the fact that they are suffering; In Hebrew it means to deride because you think they got what they deserved. Not to show any compassion whatsoever. Those who have this mocking of the poor in their spiritual inventory insults God. In Hebrew the word insults means, “to bring reproach upon, to taunt, to deride.” So by mocking the poor and being cold and callous you are taunting God.

Do you rejoice when disaster comes upon another?

If this is you, you need to remove this rejoicing over disaster from your inventory list by repenting and asking God to graciously remove them.

Do you conceal wrongs done by others, or do you gossip about them?

Proverbs 17:9 HCSB – Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends.

When someone has done some wrong, particularly to you, do you let everyone know, thereby destroying that person’s reputation, or do you conceal it, and give it to the Lord because you love Him.

Do you cause conflicts between other believers?

Proverbs 17:13-14 HCSB – 13 If anyone returns evil for good, evil will never depart from his house. 14 To start a conflict is to release a flood; stop the dispute before it breaks out.

When someone does you wrong, do you do wrong back, just to continue the conflict? If you do, then evil will never leave your house nor will you be you able to withhold the conflict from spreading like a mighty flood.

What should be our response to this message tonight? Well, take an inventory of your life and see what should be there and what shouldn’t. Rejoice in God’s grace for the things that God has put in your life. Mourn and ask for God to mercifully help you and remove those things that should not be in your life.

What would happen in our community if we quit judging others and started to examine and judge ourselves by Scripture? I believe we would see the imperfections come out in the open, but at the same time once we give them to Christ, we’d see God’s mercy come shining through and removing those bondages.