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Burnishers of the Soul

Trials Transformation Christlikeness

Source: Quoted from the yet unpublished book RANDOMNESS HAPPENS FOR A REASON by Dr. Mitchell W. Dillon

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2023-01-24

Scripture: James 1:2 ; Romans 8:28

Author: Illustration Exchange


Rock tumblers are used to bring out the beauty of certain rocks and minerals. But before the tumbler is turned on, along with the rocks, an abrasive grit is added to the mix. As the motorized barrel turns, the grit between the stones creates friction, which wears off the rough edges, smoothing out the rocks. This transforms them into brightly polished stones.


Living in a random environment leaves us exposed to an abrasive world.  Although the rough and tumble of it all may seem chaotic to us, the churning has the very specific goal of chipping away at anything about us that doesn’t look like Jesus. James called these burnishers of the soul “trials of various kinds” (James 1:2, ESV). Paul referred to them as the “all things” that work for our good (Romans 8:28, NKJV). Every bit of grit they bring to the tumbler of life is intended to help us in taking yet another step in becoming more like Jesus!

We Obey What We Love

Grace Transformation Motivation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2021-11-21

Scripture: Galatians 3:3 ; 2 Corinthians 5:17

Author: Mitchell Dillon


Paul tells us that when we become Christians we become “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), that we “put off the old self with its practices … and have put on the new self, which is being renewed” (Colossians 3:9-10, ESV).  Like a butterfly that rises from its cocoon, we emerge as renewed creatures.

Before, we trusted in good works for salvation, now we trust in the finished work of Christ. Before, we lived in fear and shame, now we live in light of God’s perfect love and forgiveness. Before, we resolved to do better by conjuring up the mustard to overcome bad habits and sinful behaviors, now we resolve to do better by conjuring up the mustard to overcome bad habits and sinful behaviors.

Wait a minute!! That last one didn't sound any different than what we were doing before our salvation. How is it that grace has transformed everything about us except the process of transformation itself? Could it be that we are failing to turn to grace at this strategic point and are relying on old habits instead? Seriously, how is the approach most of us take to overcoming bad behavior any different from how we exercised self-control before we came to faith in Christ?


It is important to take note that in all of the ways that grace has affected a change in our lives there has always been a transition from relying on human effort to relying on divine provision.  With that all-important point in mind, we fool ourselves if we think that we have transitioned to grace in our efforts to overcome sin if we are, in fact, still relying on human effort.

This was Paul’s point when he asked the legalistic Galatians, “After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). They began their Christian experience by relying on God’s provision for salvation but they attempted to go on to maturity not by grace but by continuing to rely on human effort. Sound familiar?

The real solution to chronic issues of disobedience isn’t more effort but more love. To turn to human effort to solve a problem that was created by human effort is nonsensical, as Paul pointed out.  What we need, instead, is to love God more than the things that tempt us away from Him.

Here's the central point: We Obey What We Love.

We yield to temptation because we love the things that tempt us. We overcome temptation by loving God more than anything else. But search as we may, this love won't be found in our flesh. To find it, we must turn from ourselves and ask God to fill us with more of His love.

So, when you find yourself failing to be obedient to God over something, don’t resolve to do better or try harder next time. Instead, ask God to give you a love for pleasing Him that’s greater than your love for that sin. When it's more love for God that provides the victory, then you can rest assured that you have not only begun your Christian journey in the Spirit but that you are learning to finish it in the Spirit, as well.

The Rat Race

Worldliness Humor Transformation

Source: 1956, The Golden Ham: A Candid Biography of Jackie Gleason by Jim Bishop, (Undated letter from Jackie Gleason to Gen (Genevieve, estranged wife Gleason)), Quote Page 258,

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2021-10-28

Scripture: 2 Timothy 4:7

Author: Jackie Gleason / Lily Tomlin


Lily Tomlin's version of a Jackie Gleason quote is as follows:

"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win you're still a rat."


The Apostle Paul spoke of a different kind of race.  One in which those who run are transformed, not into rats but into the image of Christ!

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

Pressure to Conform

Conformity Fellowship Transformation

Contributed By: Stephen Kingsley | Date Posted: 2019-01-29

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:14 ; Romans 12:2

Author: Stephen Kingsley

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Extreme Makeover

New Birth Regeneration Transformation

Contributed By: Thomas Bevers | Date Posted: 2018-08-06

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17

Author: Thomas Bevers

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Spilling Your Coffee

Fruit of the Spirit Character Transformation

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2018-07-13

Scripture: Galatians 5:22

Author: Illustration Exchange

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Results Typical

New Birth Transformation Salvation

Contributed By: Charles Schuyler | Date Posted: 2015-04-13

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:17

Author: Aaron Pratt / Charles Schuyler

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Turn the World Around

Worldly Mindset Spiritual Warfare Transformation

Contributed By: Barnett Gushin | Date Posted: 2015-02-16

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 10:3

Author: Unknown

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Cooperating With The Miracle of Metamorphosis

Transformation Salvation Futility

Contributed By: Larry Lewis | Date Posted: 2015-01-01

Author: Bill Hybels / Larry Lewis

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No Such Thing As Privacy

Transformation Grace Accountability

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-12-25

Scripture: Psalms 139:23

Author: Illustration Exchange

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