Proverbs 17:3: The Vigilant Refiner
The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts. (Proverbs 17:3 ESV)
My friend at the jewelers puts on goggles and fireproof gloves. Then, with a smile, he sparks his blowtorch to life. He touches the stream of fire to a bar of silver in a crucible, and explains what’s happening over the hiss of the torch. “Different metals purify at different temperatures,” he says. “And you need to be careful to get the temperature just right, so that you don’t lose any of the precious metal you’re refining. Otherwise, you’ll burn it too much and it all turns to dust.” I can see the dross curling to the surface, forming an ugly crust. Dross is the concentration of the impurities that were once within the metal—but now they are being separated by the perfect application of heat. The vigilance required is impressive, watching the refiner dance with molten metal and flame, carefully applying the fire and then pulling it away. Applying the fire, pulling it away. All the while, the dross is separated from the silver that holds the real value. This is the same refinement process the LORD uses on our hearts. With just the right amount of heat and trial, the Vigilant Refiner burns away the dross that is not just buried within us, but has been a part of us for as long as we can remember. God purifies our hearts of corruption and sin, melting us to make us new. With loving concern, he skillfully applies streams of flame that increase our value and integrity rather than burning us to dust. What is the state of your life, are you in the refiner’s fire right now? Where is heat being applied? Where are you being melted by trials and your impurities are curling to the surface? Do you know that God will continue to refine you until the dross is removed? So, reflect. Don’t waste the tender flames, the loving fire, the purifying heat. Don’t cling to your dross, but let it surface and be swept away. Name the character impurities God is removing. Don’t waste the pain, but press into it, and say with Peter, “Lord not just my feet, but my whole body also!” In my own life, through near-losses and extravagant failures, the LORD has purified me of unbelief, pride, and idolatry. (And has more to go, I’m afraid.) Unbelief in his nearness, his grace, and at times even his existence. Pride in my own strength, talent, and perceived economic value. Idolatry in finding my security in health, wealth, and prestige. I’ve had nothing left but to look upward and see the Father, torch in hand, surfacing my dross right in front of my face. I know others have suffered more difficult times, but still, it hasn’t felt good. But what a glorious realization to see God’s hand, applying just the right heat, preparing my family for what is to come. It is good to pause in pain, look to the torch, and celebrate that the dross you’ve lived with for so long is now being swept away. Worship in this and don’t cling to what the Lord is mercifully dividing from your heart. What are three things the LORD is purifying your heart from right now?