Nov 12, 2008

Refining Fire

I've learned something new.

Well, really, I've learned something old in a new way. Have you ever noticed the most profound lessons in life often come through painful circumstances or involve people whose integrity you respect(ed)? Have you ever wondered why it is most frequently not a complete stranger who causes pain, but instead someone we know well? And have you noticed that "doing the right thing" isn't easy? Have you noticed that people's intentions towards you are not always good? And have you noticed that when the chips are down, true colors of people begin to show?

In Mark 7, Jesus was speaking to a crowd. He said, "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.' But you say that if a man says to his father or mother: 'Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is Corban' (that is, a gift devoted to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a man can make him 'unclean' by going into him. Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him 'unclean.'" After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" He asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.' "

Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately wicked; who can understand it?"

The condition of a man's heart is a subject to which God directs our attention throughout the Scriptures. He knew the battle for pure hearts would be a struggle for all generations. I wonder why it is then that we are so surprised by the wickedness we see in others. In ourselves.

Studly and I learned (again) that God cares far more about our holiness than our happiness.

I'm going to say that again.

God cares more about our holiness than our happiness.

Refining fire.

Painful.

Necessary.

Fruitful.

If you're in the fire today, be strong and take courage. There is a purpose in it. And when that purpose is accomplished, only silver and gold remain.

7 comments:

Sheryl said...

Wow, amen! That refiner's fire sure can hurt, but oh..what comes out on the other side. So pretty!

Lesson learned (again) thanks.

~Sheryl

Anonymous said...

Well, you are already 22 Carat to us!
Love ya!
Dad

Suzanne said...

Amazing post Jenn. I am in the fire right now, so this was very good for me to read...

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Yes, much beauty and many lessons come from the fire.

Thank you for this encouragement and reminder to stay strong while I feel the fire burning me up. He is my armor...my fire proof garment...not preventing fire but preventing being burned in the fire. I guess that would be fire resistance....the fire seeps in but doesn't take over.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

Amen...what a powerful post today sweet friend and I LOVE this quote:

God cares far more about our holiness than our happiness.

God so longs for brokenness..so that through brokenness...I way become more like my Jesus!!!!

Love ya.

GoSuze! said...

That is powerful....something to really think about...thank you!

Scott Mc. said...

Need more. Connect for me the ideas about pain inflicted by those close to you or those you respect and the trial of enduring the pain. What is the significance of the source of the fire?

Right with you on that last concept. Drives me crazy to hear someone say "Well, God wouldn't want me to live this way. He wouldn't want me to be unhappy."