Silver is purified in the crucible, gold in the furnace,
but motives of the heart are judged by the Eternal.
Refining is another word for purification. We hear of people wth refined manners – ones that have been tested and tried and shown to be at a higher level than most people. Sometimes it’s a pretention but when it comes to metals – and hearts – it’s vital.
Unrefined metals are impure. If I was to buy a gold ring I wouldn’t want the jeweller to tell me “It’s actually not all gold, there’s quite a bit of other stuff in there.” Impure metals are weaker, they might corrode or bend or not do the job for which they have been shaped. They need to be purified, refined and that process involves heat.
The writer of the proverb tells us that just as metals have to be purified to serve their purpose, so do our hearts. In some ways it’s good we don’t endure the flame to purify us! but instead, we come under the gaze of the Living God… not for judgement now, thanks to the redemption we have received but for purity.
I read this a while ago:
There was a group of women in a Bible study on the book of Malachi.
As they were studying chapter three, they came across verse three which says: “He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…”. This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out about the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible study.
That week this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn’t mention anything about the reason for her interest in silver 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 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 silver was being refined. 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 even 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.”
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.
God desires to see His image, the image of Jesus in us. Submission might still be sometimes painful but what a reward!