Thursday, September 4, 2014

Refiner's Fire

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  

Today I want to expand on the words "doing good" in Galatians 6:9.  In chapter 6, Paul is instructing us how to do good to one another, especially other believers. But what is "doing good" exactly? How would you define it? 

Earlier in the chapter, Paul teaches about accountability and helping carry other's burdens. This is good. You see, goodness, doesn't just mean happiness or producing emotions that feel good. It's a refining process. The dictionary defines goodness as moral excellence and virtue. That's definitely a high standard which is why it's a refining process.  I'm sure I've fallen short in the goodness category many many times. Thank the Lord for His grace and good friends who are not afraid to gently provide accountability when I stray. 

Do you think we make it hard for other believers to refine us? God is very specific about the role of the church. One of those roles is to confess sins to one another. (James 5:16) I am being refined by this because it means that I'm vulnerable in that moment when another believer notices something in my life that is contradictory to how God is calling me to live. Has that happened to you as well? What was your first reaction? Mine was certainly not thankfulness, as the Bible instructs. My reaction was embarrassment, which manifested as anger.  

In hindsight, I see that it took courage for the fellow believer to approach me and bring the situation to light. This person was not trying to condemn me, but rather to build my faith by the refiner's fire. They were being the true friend I needed, full of grace and encouragement. Romans 1:12 says that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith. It always takes a difficult situation to grow our faith. We can control our reactions to these difficult and vulnerable moments by choosing to love and be thankful that God provides us with gentle believers to refine us toward goodness. 

The refining process requires heating up and cooling down, as a result, the material changes form. (Ex. solid to liquid, liquid to gas.) We are that material. We are changing form! We are becoming more like Christ when we allow other believers to hold us accountable. It's a necessary part of the growth process. I've had to step back to recognize that this is a gift from God. We make each other strong. None of us are perfect, but all of us are growing. Let's gently refine each other to a higher state of goodness. Let's not grow weary in doing this or receiving this, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don't give up! 

Until the whole world hears, 

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