“These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:71 Peter 1:3-9
I used to sing a song whose lyrics ask God to purify my heart like gold through His refining fire. It’s easy to sing songs like that when you have not yet faced “refining fire.” Furthermore, I did not appreciate the intensity of the process from the perspective of the gold being heated to temperatures in excess of 1,000° Celsius (1,832° Fahrenheit).
The process of refining my heart is intense like those thousands of degrees of heat. It’s not what I would choose, but it’s what’s required to re-shape and re-form my sinful heart for a holy God. The Almighty Refiner separates out impurities in my life so that I can better reflect Him to the world.
Perhaps like me you’ve been tempted to think the refining process is punishment from God for sins. We need to distinguish between discipline and punishment. Because God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6), and because Jesus has already taken the punishment for all my sins (1 Peter 3:18), the pain I experience is discipline— not ongoing punishment—meant for my good.
“Purify my heart/ Let me be as gold and precious silver/ Refiner’s fire/ My heart’s one desire/ Is to be holy/ Set apart for You, Lord.” (Brian Doerksen, 2008)