Malachi 3:1-4 ;
3 Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me;
suddenly the Lord whom you are seeking will come to his temple.
The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
2 Who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can withstand his appearance?
He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap.
3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver.
He will purify the Levites
and refine them like gold and silver.
They will belong to the Lord,
presenting a righteous offering.
4 The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord
as in ancient days and in former years.
In our current society the worst thing you can say to people is that they are not perfect. Many children are growing up today with the ideas that what they are in that moment, what they can do at this time, is all they need to succeed in this world. While that is a happy thought that may wrap warm fuzzies around some as they nestle into bed, it is a bold face lie. I’m not saying we should stomp on our children’s self-esteem but reality is if you want to be great at something you have to work really hard at it.
Professionals at all levels work hard to hone their craft. From professional athletes who push their bodies to the limit during the off season or who take the same shot over and over again to lawyers and preachers who work on the art of rhetoric to improve their skills. Architects, CEOs, doctors and engineers are always learning new procedures and looking into new ways to do things. Professional musicians and singers have to practice, practice, practice. The skills we have as children do not make us great but they are the foundation of greatness that will come with hard work. We simply cannot stop growing when we are 13 or even 18, we have to continue to process throughout life.
Here in Malachi we get nervous when we read of being purified or refined. We think pain and punishment but reality is different. Instead I think of this as moving us from where we are to greatness or even holiness. The refining and purifying process removes dirty material, imperfections, and defects and creates something wonderful. Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit works on all of our hearts to move the dirt, defects and imperfections out in order for us to be made great in Christ. As we grow as followers of Christ we have to be willing to always be changing, always refined, always purified. If we are satisfied with where we are, we are merely lukewarm Christians. We should seek and welcome God’s refining process no matter where we are in our walk.