It is the process used to rid a valuable commodity of worthless impurities, those things that contaminate. This is commonly done by heating the mixture in a container to melting point. In the smelting process the impurities (dross) rise to the top to be discarded, leaving the purified, desirable substance behind.

In a similar way, it is in the heat of trials that the character flaws in us become evident and can be dealt with as we keep in view the long term objectives (Ps 66:10; Zech 13:9; 2 Cor 4:17; 1 Pet 1:6,7). It is our responsibility to purge our lives of undesirable qualities that surface in the tests God arranges for us (Job 23:10; Dan 12:10; 2 Cor 7:1; 2 Tim 2:21; Jas 4:8; 1 Jn 3:3). He allows the heat to be applied; the choice is ours as to what the outcome will be. The old unproductive and worthless, carnal nature is purged out of our lives as we co-operate with the Holy Spirit. Do not waste these experiences from God – it profits nothing if we are in the furnace and resist what He wants to do. God is even more interested to achieve cleanness of spirit and uprightness of our character than we are. Speaking about the Israelites God said, “See, I have refined you…I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, I do this…” (Isa 48:10,11). Often we would rather comfort but God wants character and that is only achieved by the ‘heat’ of the purifying process. It may be tempting to give in to self-pity, however this is a hallmark of the carnal nature protesting. 

This refining which cleanses our lives of sin, and the effects it has caused in us, is a lifelong process. Don’t shrink back from the refining for it will result in eternal benefits. Pruning, which has a similar overall effect, is the removal of unproductive areas so more fruit will result. No refining or discipline of character is without pain. Later on, it produces

Praise God He sees the potential                                   in us, to refine us

‘a harvest of righteousness and peace’ for those who have been subject to it so look beyond the present pressure and discomfort of the refining to the future, and what will be accomplished because of it (Heb 12:10,11). Follow the example of Jesus who took the long-term perspective, "for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb 12:2).

Ultimately the total company of redeemed believers is to be presented to Christ, our Saviour, as His radiant bride – holy, blameless and without any blemish (Eph 5:27).

See also: character, choice, dealings of God, discipline, perspective, pruning, pure/purity, quality, response, self-pity, test/testing, trials.

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