Refining Moments

As I was rushing to get ready for church recently, I began quickly grabbing my jewelry to add the final touches to accessorize my outfit. My eye caught…just a little longer than usual…the silver ring I had just slipped onto my finger.

This particular ring isn’t just an accessory to me. It has great sentimental value as it belonged to my mother who passed away 5 years ago.

And just maybe the actual day of her death just a few days prior had prompted my sudden emotions at this moment as I reflected a bit longer on the silver ring. I had acquired most of mother’s silver and gold jewelry after her passing and cherish it very close to heart.

Silver and gold…precious pieces of metal that continue to gain value in our world today. And with our modern technology who would ever stop to think about the time and effort it took years ago to refine these metals.

We live in such a modern culture where machines and computers have taken over that we don’t tend to hear much about silversmiths and goldsmiths these days. But the process of refining silver and gold is quite interesting and truly an art…and actually has some life application for us as well!

The silversmith and the goldsmith start their work with impure silver and gold ore. Through the refining process they extract and mold the pure gold and silver by removing all of the impurities in the ore. These impurities are referred to as the dross.

This process involves fire and the close attention of the smith. The smith puts the ore in the fire to burn out some of the impurities…then takes it out and shapes it…and then he puts it back in the fire. All the while he keeps a close eye on his precious metal.

The goal of the silversmith or goldsmith is to fashion and mold the precious metal until it is pure and shines bright. He heats and works with his metal until he can see his image reflected in it.

The word refine is defined as “to become pure; to become more fine, elegant, or polished.”

It is through this refining process that we can enjoy these pure…fine…elegant…and polished pieces of silver and gold jewelry that may have sentimental value to us and as women so love to accessorize with!

How about in your life? Have you ever gone through the fire? Maybe you are in the fire right now…

As Christians, we will certainly have moments where the heat is turned up in our lives….where the fire may seem so hot…where the challenges may seem to consume us…where the struggles seem unbearable. Because…after all…the Bible never said “if” we face trials but “when” right? (James 1:2)

We will have moments in the fire…and it is in the fire that we will be tested…Because whether we like it or not…whether we feel ready or not…life is full of tests.

Tests that will test our character…test our patience…test our loyalty…test our faith…test our obedience…test our faithfulness…test our commitment…test our love…test just about anything!

Just as the silversmith and goldsmith use fire to mold and shape their precious metals… It is in the tests…it is in the fire… that we too are molded…we too are shaped…we too are fashioned into the image of Christ.

It is in the fire we are tested…It is in the fire that we are refined. And God says…

I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. Zechariah 13:9 NIV

The Bible actually characterizes God as our Refiner…

For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, Malachi 3:3 NIV

For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. Malachi 3:3 NLT

There are some very interesting and encouraging points to note about this verse from these 2 bible translations.

First of all, He [God] will sit like a refiner…This is so significant because just as a smith will sit to refine his metal, God will sit with us to refine us as we go in…and yes through the fire! (through has much better ring to it than in…doesn’t it?!)

This clearly demonstrates that God will never leave our side! He is with us the entire time…no matter how hot the fire seems!

And to drive this point even further…The smith keeps a close watch…close attention…on the piece of metal in the fire to make sure it isn’t destroyed or consumed by the fire.

Wow!

So not only is God merely with us in the fire…God is also actively keeping a close watch…close attention…on us to make sure the heat isn’t too hot to destroy or consume us!

He cares so much for us that even though He may turn up the heat…He will pull us out before we are overcome by the flames. He is only interested in turning up the heat hot enough to melt away the impurities…to melt away the dross…to melt away those areas of our lives that may not be pleasing to Him…to refine us!

Can you see any specific areas God is trying to melt away and refine in your life?

We will have these refining moments in our lives…we will have many refining moments in our lives…Because God is interested in making us look more and more like Him. He is interested ultimately in seeing His image reflected in us…just like the smith knows his metal is refined and finished when he sees his image reflected in it.

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6 MSG

The following two commentary excerpts continue to paint the picture of God as our refiner even further…

He shall sit as a Refiner. Christ, by his gospel, shall purify and reform his church, and by his Spirit working with it, shall regenerate and cleanse souls. He will take away the dross found in them. He will separate their corruptions, which render their faculties worthless and useless. The believer needs not fear the fiery trial of afflictions and temptations, by which the Saviour refines his gold. He will take care it is not more intense or longer than is needful for his good. Mathew Henry’s Concise

As a refiner sits and observes his metal while it is melting, and waits the proper time to pour it out and separate the dross from it; so Christ is here represented as sitting, while his people are purifying and refining by the various ways and means he makes use of: it denotes the continued care of Christ over them; his eye is upon them, that nothing be lost but their dross and corruption; and his patience in waiting to be gracious to them, and do them good; and his diligent attention to the proper season of doing it; designing by all that he does, not their hurt and damage, but their real good, for he saves them, though it be by fire; and indeed every trial and affliction is for the purifying of their souls, and the brightening of their graces, and increasing their spiritual experience, light, and knowledge. Gill’s Exposition

I love this! Don’t you?

God doesn’t want us to be fearful or afraid in our lives when we go through the fire because…

With Him in control…we will not be consumed or destroyed.

With Him in control…we will not be left alone.

With Him in control…we will become more fine, elegant, and polished.

With Him in control…we will become more like the image of Christ…more like Him!

With Him in control…we will be refined!

So…Be encouraged today!

We will have refining moments…and the fire may seem real hot…but God the Master Refiner is in control…He will never leave you and will keep His eye on you the entire time…and in His time He will pull you out…more refined than you have ever been!

After all, God and His word are far “more precious than silver and gold” …even the silver and gold we so cherish and accessorize with! (Psalm 19:10, Psalm 12:6, Psalm 119:72)

Reflection Points:

  1. Have you ever gone through the fire? Are you are in the fire right now?
  2. Does the fire seem so hot that your challenges and struggles seem unbearable and ready to consume you?
  3. Can you see any specific areas God is trying to melt away and refine in your life?

Action Points:

  1. We all will have moments in the fire. It is important to understand God’s plan and purpose in the fire. That he is the Master Refiner refining you.
  2. If you are going through the fire…pray and ask God what specific areas he may be trying to melt away and refine in your life.
  3. Trust Him that the fire will not consume or destroy you. Trust Him that He is in control. Know that He will never leave you and is keeping close watch over you.
  4. Know that He loves you and cares for you so much!
  5. Rejoice in the refining process…because the result of this process is that you are looking more and more like Him!
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