Malachi 3:3 - He (the Lord) 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.
Have you ever watched a metalsmith refine silver? He places the mineral rock over an intense flame until it is melted. As the impurities rise to the top of the molten silver, he removes them. With great patience, the metalsmith must work for a long time, removing the dross bit by bit until the silver is pure and fit to be fashioned into a beautiful work of art.
The Bible says that God is like a refiner who purifies silver. The silver symbolizes those who are God's children—for God considers them of great worth. The trials of life are like the intense flame that causes the dross to rise to the surface. When we are tried by fire, the Lord can remove the impurities of sin from our character, and thus make our lives into something exquisitely beautiful.
As our metalsmith, God knows sin's impurities are being refined from our "silver" when He can see His face reflected in the smooth surface of the molten metal of our lives. To do this, the Father allows trials to come our way, not to hurt us or dishearten us, but so their effect will transform us, and so He might see His purity and love reflected in our lives. As we are refined of the sin that plagues and mars us, the image of His Son is more clearly seen in our lives. Tough as this process may be, it's for our good (see Romans 8:28).
Likewise, we should realize that the Lord disciplines us because He loves us dearly: "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives" (Hebrews 12:5b-6).
The trials of life cause some people to question if God is a loving God. Scripture lets us know, however, that God can and does work through difficult circumstances, achieving His greater purposes. He loves us so much that He is not content to see us remain in the depravity of our sin and selfishness. Instead, just as a good father teaches his children to be responsible and honest, so our Heavenly Father can use the complications of life to refine us into the people He wants us to be—people who bear the image of Jesus.
Through good times and bad, we do well to remember the words of James: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).
God is in the business of shaping lives. How is He working in yours today?
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, remind us that we are works in progress—ever more becoming like the One who sits at Your right hand: Jesus, our Lord and Savior. In His Name we pray. Amen.
Adapted from a Project Connect booklet Why Do Bad Things Happen? by Dr. Phil Bickel
1. Are they any "old school" crafts/skills you can do or would like to learn? What are they?
2. How does God refine people?
3. What circumstances in your life show God at work refining you?
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