Refiner's Fire

By Rod Hemphill

Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

The story is told about some women in a Bible study who were puzzled by this verse.
They wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.

That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver.

As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God allowing us to be in fires of life, then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?"

He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it."

(Original source of this story unknown.)

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire --whatever your troubles may be, remember that God has his eye on you and is refining you until He sees His image in you.

We read in Romans 8.28-29, "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him . . . who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he knew in advance, he also destined [them] to become conformed to the image of his Son."

But we also read in Romans 12.2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may prove [as the silversmith "proves" the silver] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

Evidently the trials of life are going to conform us to something other than what we are. We get to choose only whether we shall be conformed to the dead-end attitudes and character of this world, or whether we shall be conformed to the image of Christ.

Paul tells us, "I appeal to you therefore . . . by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship" (Romans 12.1). "For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn of many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised his glory would shine through them (Romans 8.29-30).

So "do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is [finally] revealed" (1 Peter 4.12-13).

Let the Lord become your dwelling place. Your importunity is the Lord's opportunity!


Other Articles by Rod:
The Tomb of Jesus. . . and Mary, and Son Joseph?
How to Take Over a Country Without Firing a Shot
How and Why We Can Afford to Give Disbelievers Their "Best Shot"
Halloween: Spoof, Spooked or Spiritual Service?
The Golden Compass: A Warning for Parents

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