A Time for Spiritual Purification

“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, till they present right offerings to the Lord.”
Malachi 3:3, RSV
Several years ago, during a Bible study on the Old Testament book of Malachi, a group reading chapter three came to the lines above and, realizing this verse had to do with sin and judgment, wondered what it meant about the character and nature of God.

A woman in the class offered to research the process of refining silver and report back to the group. She called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him work. She did not mention the reason for her interest beyond curiosity in the refining silver process.

The silversmith placed pieces of silver ore in a ladle, held them over the fire and heated them. He explained that in refining silver, one held the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought again about the verse, “He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver,” and pictured God holding us in such a hot spot.

She asked if he had to watch the silver continuously while it was being purified. He answered, “Yes,” that he also had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver remained in the flames for too long, it would be destroyed.

The woman pondered and asked, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?” “Oh, that’s easy,” he said, “when I see my image in it!”

If today, on this first Monday in Lent, you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember — God has His eye on you and will keep watching until He sees His image in you.

O God, who does not desire the death of sinners: I beseech you to help and protect me as I am exposed to various temptations; and grant that in obeying your commandments I may be refined and purified by your Grace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. John R. Bentley, Jr.
Pastoral Associate
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