You are an Olympic athlete and you’ve just won your first gold medal. Congratulations! But upon further review, you really just won yourself a silver medal with gold plating. Both gold and silver medals awarded to the first and second place finishers at the Olympic Games are made of 92.5% silver, with the gold medal being plated with at least 6 grams of gold, thus making the gold medal less than 2% gold. (The last gold medals actually made of gold were awarded at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.) So then, what about the third place bronze medal? Is it really bronze? You be the judge – bronze is an alloy, meaning it is made by melting copper and tin together.
Maybe you are wondering, why gold, silver and bronze? The three metals used in Olympic medals are located in the same column of the periodic table. This means they share many of the same characteristics with each other. The most important property these metals share is that they can be found naturally in their elemental native (pure) form. Most other metals are only found in their mineral form, comprised of several elements. Copper (Cu) is at the top of the column, thus the least rare, so it is used for third place. Silver (Ag) is one level down, rarer than copper, so it represents second place. And gold (Au) is found one level below silver in the column, thus the rarest of the three, so naturally, first place.
We can agree that gold – whether coins, some sort of medal awarded, or a wedding ring – is of great value. The Bible tells us that maintaining our faith in the midst of difficulties and trials is worth far more than gold. In the first few verses of 1 Peter we are told God’s plan of redemption and restoration meets our every need, and this blessing is so great that we can pass through times of trouble by holding onto a faith in a living Jesus that we have not seen. (Read 1 Peter 1:3-9.) Today we want to highlight verses 6-7, “In all of this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
The most pure form of gold is 24-karat and it comes through refining by fire. Gold ore is put to heat so the impurities, known as dross, can be burned away. Like gold, God refines us the same way. The trials we all face from time to time, some that truly shake us to our very core, help to sift out that which is pure and genuine in our faith from that which is impure.
Right now, ask God for a faith that is of greater value that gold.
New Bern, North Carolina