Removing the impurities makes what remains more valuable and useful. The purity of a substance is what makes it strong.
Have you ever worked with clay? One thing that is extremely important before even starting a piece of sculpture or work with the clay is “burping” it. This is working with it, folding it in on itself repeatedly, smacking onto a hard surface, and working all the air bubbles out of it. If you skip this step, when you go to fire your piece, those air bubbles will explode and ruin your work.
When working with metals, they have to be heated so hot that all the elements liquify. The impurities rise to the surface where they are drawn off. I’ve never worked with metals so I don’t know exactly how this happens. But for the metal to be strong it has to have all the impurities removed. If they remain, this becomes the weak point in anything built with the impure metals. For precious metals the value increases once the impurities are removed.
Our hearts are the same. We ALL come with impurities. Some with a few more than others. But the only way to have those removed is by going through ‘the fire’. If you don’t like the ‘fire’ metaphor you could try the clay one; being pounded and mushed until you are completely soft and malleable. Both imply extreme stress to bring all the impurities to the surface to be released. The impurities cannot be hidden or covered up and still have a strong heart. For, like the metal, we will break along the lines of the impurities that remain within us.
I DO NOT believe God is standing over us with a hammer, waiting to strike in order to ‘clean us up’ or ‘teach us a lesson’. What He is doing is working in us and in the world around us to bring the impurities to the surface so we can deal with them. This usually involves some kind of pressure. It can be internal or external; in our heart/mind or in the circumstances around us. The pressure is always gentle to begin with, but it increases until we see what it is that is being worked out. At that point, we can choose to hold onto it or let it go. God will not FORCE us to turn loose of our sin but He can ‘turn up the heat’ until we choose to lay it down.
This reminds me again of the story of how to cook a frog. Put him in lukewarm water and turn the heat on low. By the time the pot boils the frog will be cooked. He won’t have noticed the temperature rise until it was too late to escape the pot.
God will only work with removing our impurities when He knows we are ready for that work. You wouldn’t ask an infant to do the work of a man any more in the spiritual realm that you would in the physical world. There is a time for simply abiding, a time for growth, and a time for refinement. Each has its purpose and time. God knows us better than we even know ourselves, so when He says “It’s time to get to work” you can bet it is. Better buckle up and get to work THEN than fight Him. It makes the process much easier that way.
Thinking about the second verse in our reading got me to thinking about the workplace. A workplace with bickering and unrest is also unprofitable. The boss can’t tend to the business of business because all his time is spent in helping people get along. There are too many ‘fires’ to be put out and nothing productive comes out of that kind of atmosphere. The king who has all this removed from his kingdom will have no limit to what he can accomplish. Talk about an ideal workplace!
The lesson for today is:
- There IS work to be done to come out with a pure product/heart
- It is easier when you cooperate with God
- The work WILL be done so it’s best to stop fighting it. When you are a child of the King, He sees to it that His children grow.
- With each impurity released, we grow stronger.
- It is worth the process; to be more like Him.
Father God, thank You for NEVER giving up on me! No matter how hard I kick and scream or drag my heels, You WILL have Your work in me. In my kicking and screaming, if I was serious about not wanting to submit to Your hand, You would draw it away from me; including all the good that goes with it. You have taught me time and time again about the wisdom of going along with what You are trying to tell me/teach me. Keep working with me Father. I KNOW I have a LONG way to go before all that is impurities are flushed from my heart. Keep working Father! It is well worth the price and the pain.