There are a couple bits of application that accompany this verse as I read it this morning.
One, I am not the judge. I know that the concept of not judging people comes up often in The Bible, so seeing it nestled in among the proverbs should not have surprised me. And, truthfully, I am not terribly surprised. I half-expect to find most of the truths expressed elsewhere in The Bible in this book. But this reminder that I should not judge tells me that it is a man’s heart that I should not be judging. Why he does the things he does is not for me to say. I cannot truly know. This preclusion does not, however, prevent me judging a person’s actions as either good or bad. The preclusion is against judging a man’s heart, not his hands or feet. Our actions and habits can and should be judged either right or wrong; good or bad. But our hearts are too subtle a thing and need the Master Craftsman to be at work on determining our hearts’ value and salvageability.
Two, God’s methods of removing unwanted pollutants from a human life are going to look strange to the outsider. To those unfamiliar with the refining process of silver or gold, the whole thing may look odd. Likewise, God’s process in refining a human life and making it fit for God’s use and eventual entry to Heaven will not necessarily make sense — not even to the one whose life is being refined. So I should not be surprised if what God is doing in my life to refine it and make it pure does not necessarily make sense to me or to anyone else. We are not the Master. The Master is He Who puts my life into the crucible for purification and into the furnace to be malleable. He knows how to remove the dross from my life. I do not.
This simple proverb could keep me typing for hours, but it boils down to these two simple applications for me. One, I am not to judge another’s heart. Actions? Yes. Lifestyle? Yes. But not their heart. Two, God’s purification of a life is going to seem strange to me; almost foreign, despite Him performing much the same process in my own life.