Be Refined or Be Judged
“’Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,’ says the Lord of hosts. 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 refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. ‘Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear Me,’ says the Lord of hosts.”(Malachi 3:1–5).
The process of refining and purifying silver is a demanding one. Silver is found as ore, surrounded by all sorts of rock and other base metals. This ore must be pulverized, then mixed with a flux and placed in the smelting furnace. The smith must place the mixture in a crucible in the middle of the refining fire, where the flames are the hottest, to melt all the mixture into a liquid. It is then poured into an upside-down pyramid mold where the silver will sink to the bottom and all the waste remains on the top. To purify the now separated silver, the smith has to place the silver back into the fire and sit in front of it, keeping his eyes on the silver the entire time. If the silver is left in the fire too long, the silver will pit and not be smooth or it will even burn up. Once the smith can see his image clearly in the surface of the silver, it can be removed and cooled. Then the silver is ready to be shaped into beautiful works of art.
As Christians, we are called to be Christ-like, a reflection of Christ’s image, to the world in which we live. God’s Word is the crucible in which He holds us inside of the refining fire. The impurities in our worldly lives must be burned away, melted, and separated out away from us (sexual immorality, greed, anger, envy, pride, etcetera). On this earth and in this life, there will always be hardships and struggles. Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ will always be with us, through every tribulation! In fact, He stands with us inside the refining fire in order to keep our eyes fixed on Him so that we don’t burn away. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Philippians 2:1–2).
We will never be exactly like Christ, but that should never prevent us from trying to be MORE like Christ. How can we be more Christ-like? The Holy Spirit gave to us seven gifts to help us: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, fortitude, and a fear of the Lord. These gifts aid in our mission here on earth, which is to spread the message of the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone. Also remember this: no matter how you store silver, it will always tarnish and eventually turn black. Silver must be polished repeatedly to take off the black tarnish and to make it shine again. Just like silver, when we are not in God’s Word, or praying to God for the repentance of our sins, or when we are avoiding God’s plan for us, our sins will tarnish us until we are blackened.
FEAR NOT! God already shaped us into beautiful works of art, in His image, and repeatedly polishes off the tarnish of our sin through the blood of His only Son, Jesus Christ. All Glory be to God on High!