Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts:
“Behold, I will refine them and test them,
for what else can I do, because of my people?” Jeremiah 9:7
Our text for today is one of many in which the Lord undertakes to refine his people. Refining here is an important term. Refining is something you do when you have something valuable. One refines Gold. No one invests the time and energy to refine something they don’t really need or value. The fact that the Lord seeks to refine us, rather than dispose of us, should tell us something about the value He places on us.
The Lord’s seeking to refine us says something else about us. We are valuable, but we are also contaminated. Our gold is mixed with lesser things. In Jeremiah’s time, God’s people had mixed the value the Lord had bestowed on them with lying and oppression. That was the dross that needed to be burned away in the refining.
We’ve got our dross too. Maybe yours is lying and oppression like Jeremiah’s contemporaries. Maybe yours is something else – anger, greed, jealousy – [insert your issue here]. We usually know what is contaminating us. Our sin produces enough negative effects we can see it in ourselves, and sometimes in those we hurt.
Wouldn’t today be a good time to get rid of that contamination? Most of us are under a certain amount of pressure right now. Some of us are under a tremendous amount – almost like a refiner’s fire. Whether the pressure in our lives is God’s plan for our refinement is a theological puzzler and, frankly, beyond the scope of my own wisdom and knowledge. But, I think we can all agree that any time we find ourselves under pressure, it brings an opportunity to get rid of the sin we carry.
What would you like to have burned away? As we turn to God with our heightened needs and heavy burdens, it is a perfect time to let go of the sin that separates us from our only true source of comfort and security. What would you like to have burned away? Right now, when our routines have all been disrupted and our need for the Lord is heavier than it may have ever been, let’s submit our sin to God for consumption in His refining fire.