Some time ago I received an email forward that was simply profound in its theology on Malachi 3:3, which reads, “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” I do not know the author of the commentary, which I have titled as above, but it was simply too profound not to share. I pray that it blesses you as much as it does me. Here goes:
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and 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 holding us in such a hot spot; 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 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.'”
Did you catch that last statement? The silver is not fully refined until the silversmith sees his image in it. Pastor John Piper observes, “A refiner’s fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner’s fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner’s fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact.” In other words, there really is no way to avoid the Refiner’s fire if we desire to become like Him because being refined, the process of being purged of our impurities, is a part of the process.
I am reminded of the words of hymn-writer Tom M. Jones: “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me / All His wonderful passion and purity / Oh, thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine / Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” If today you are feeling the heat of the Refiner’s fire, remember these two things: 1) He will not give you more than you can bear; you will not be destroyed (see Malachi 3:6), and 2) He has His eyes on you and will keep watching you, for as long as it takes, until He sees His image in you.