God’s Diamond in the Rough

Have you ever known an individual who on the surface seemed shy, modest, and ordinary, but behind it all was the most loving, gracious person you’ve ever met? They abound in exceptional talent and good works; yet, they are your typical unsung hero. They rise to the occasion in a time of need and shine best in trial’s darkest hour and seasons of severe tests. Such a person is one whom we would call a diamond in the rough. Like naturally occurring diamonds, they appear quite ordinary, even rough on the outside, but their beauty and worth comes from the extreme pressure under which they are formed and the harsh process of cutting and polishing that are used to reveal their inner beauty and value.

Every one of us is a potential diamond in the rough. Embedded within each person are diamond-like qualities waiting to be mined bringing joy to our Maker, others, and ourselves. Are we willing to endure the pressure, the cutting, and the polishing of the Master Jeweler to bring out the diamond within us? Most of us are not. But, for those of you who really want your diamond to break out in magnificent radiance and stunning beauty, read on!

Let’s take a look at diamonds and see how their formation and qualities parallel the lives of true believers.

A diamond is just carbon (essentially the same thing as charcoal) in a very concentrated form. Yet, when mined, cut, and polished, it becomes the most precious gemstone in the world. Diamonds are formed about 161 km (100 miles) below the Earth’s surface, when carbon is subjected to a temperature of at least 400°C (752°F) and 435,113 pounds per square inch (psi) or 30 kilobars of pressure. Where diamonds are formed, the pressure exceeds 700,000 psi and temperatures over 1200°C (2192°F).

As we try to imagine the extreme temperature and pressure under which diamonds are formed, it brings to mind the fiery trials which children of God must undergo to develop true godly character.
1 Peter 1:6-7 describes the beautiful outcome of being tested by God’s fire:

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The conditions of high pressure and temperature way beneath the Earth’s crust must be ideal for carbon to form into diamond. Slightly less than this, we end up with graphite (a soft black mineral) instead of the extremely hard, clear crystal we know as diamond. That’s why we have to be willing to endure the pain of trials and godly discipline if we want God’s character to be perfected in us. James puts it this way:

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas. 1:2-4).

A diamond is the hardest known mineral. It’s so hard that it can only be scratched by another diamond. It’s the unique molecular structure of the carbon atoms that makes a diamond very hard. As we allow Christ to live in us we will have His diamond-hard strength to withstand the pressures of life and not be easily scratched or wounded by the words or deeds of others.

Shaping Diamonds

Before diamonds become beautiful jewels, they must be cut and polished by hand or machine using steel or diamond blades or laser. The cut diamond is then polished by a rotating wheel coated with an abrasive diamond powder. God’s purpose is to refine and perfect us. He will use whatever means necessary to bring us to the point of being “a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

A Diamond’s Worth and Beauty

Diamonds are judged according to the four C’s:

  1. Cut – the geometric shape into which it has been cut
  2. Clarity – a measure of its flaws, or inclusions that can be seen in the diamond
  3. Carat – the weight of the diamond (in milligrams)
  4. Colour – ranging from icy white transparent to light yellow.

Here, too, we can see some similarities with the life of the believer.


The more we come under the sharp edge of God’s Word and allow it to pierce and shape us, the more valuable we will be for His Kingdom. Someone once said that God cannot use us until He has first wounded us. This wild human nature and spirit must be broken in order for God to effectively use us. His desire is that our lives be transparent and flawless. We must be sincere and true (1 Cor. 5:8). 


As the apostle Paul says, we must not have “spot or wrinkle or any such thing,” but rather “be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). Like flawless diamonds we must reflect and disperse light because we are the light of the world to disperse the darkness of this evil age (Matt. 5: 14-16).

Carat and Colour

God’s diamonds will be judged, not by the colour or roughness of their exterior, but by the content and quality of their interior, in a word, by their character.

This character is developed, not inherited. It cannot be bought, it must be earned. It cannot be achieved by avoiding God’s divine process. We must be willing to endure the Master Jeweller’s refining process. It is this process that will shape and refine us from being diamonds in the rough to become sparkling jewels. A verse from the old hymn, How Firm A Foundation puts it very beautifully:

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flames shall not hurt thee; I only design.
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”

The world’s biggest and most prized diamonds adorn the Royal Sceptre and Imperial State Crown of the British Monarchy. These precious gems are worth an incredibly vast sum. But even these cannot be compared to those who will shine like diamonds in the Heavenly Father’s realm on that day when He makes up His jewels (Mal. 3:17).


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