The story is told of a small group that met for Bible study. While studying the book of Malachi, they came across this verse in chapter three: “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…” This verse puzzled the group and they wondered how this statement applied to the character and nature of God. Their leader offered to find out more about the process of refining silver, and to get back to the group at their next meeting.
The following week, the leader called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him while 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 work, 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 the hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The leader thought about the verse again and understood the part about how God puts his people through hot spots to purify and refine them but she still wasn’t sure about the first part that said, “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…”
After a while, when she began to feel uncomfortably warm, she asked the silversmith if he had to sit there in front of the fire the entire time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes. And not only did he have to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on it the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, “But 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.”
Times of refinement are never the easiest of times. And if we desire to be wholly devoted to Christ, His Body & His Mandate, it means that we will go through times of adjustment and discomfort. Those periods can be painful in many ways and often in the midst of it, we shout out, “God, is this really necessary?!” or “Why did I choose to go through this?!”
Yet, let’s remember that God refines His beloved and in the midst of it all, he will never let us out of his sight and knows exactly how long we should remain in the heat. For His grace is sufficient for us and His power is made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9). So let’s take heart and press on, knowing that the Father is pleased with those who grow more and more into the likeness of His Son.
By Adrian Ow, Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 2 February 2014)