Recently, in a Bible class in the congregation where I worship, there was some discussion about how God sometimes refines us. Based on Biblical principles the discussion centered around how as we mature spiritually, or to mature us spiritually, God helps us to jettison things that once entrapped us or things or habits of which we were clearly too enamored by in our younger years. The Scripture that follows was originally a prophecy found in Malachi that dealt with the Levites but I do not find it hard to extend the principle to my own life.
“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3)
Whether we refer to it as pruning (John 15) or as refining as here in Malachi or other passages, it is certain that God will seek to remove the impurities of our life. He will seek to mature us and make us even more useful. Trials and suffering of my own making or trials and suffering brought on by the mistakes of others both can be used by God to refine me. However, I must accept it for what it is and allow God to purify me.
I have lived a good life. I have had many beautiful experiences. I have many, many friends. I have a beautiful family. Still, I have scars inside and out from trials and suffering both of my own makings and because of the actions of others. I can allow guilt and regret to take over when I reflect on my mistakes. I can allow anger and bitterness to take hold when I consider the wrongs brought on my by others. Or, I can approach God in humility and accept the refining only He can do. I choose the latter.
I want to leave you with the chorus of one of my favorite worship songs, written by Brian Doerksen. As you might have guessed, it is titled: Refiner’s Fire.
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will