Transforming Growth by a Consuming Fire
March 17, 2017Faith-based, God's Love, Growth, Maturity, Relationship Building, Spiritual Intimacy, Transitions
“For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:29)
What is your initial reaction when you read or hear this verse? Does it frighten you, or elicit a challenge to what you believe? Doesn’t this appear to contradict God’s loving nature? Scripture tells us that God is love (see 1 John 4:7-8, 16). So, what is with this consuming thing? How are we to understand Him as a “consuming fire?”
If God truly is love, then everything He does must be a result of His loving nature. And yet, as contradictory as it seems, scripture clearly indicates our loving God is a consuming fire. Perhaps we can shed light on this truth by seeing the fire as an integral part of our transforming growth into His reflective resemblance (image and likeness).
Life’s cleansing trials
Smelting is the process by which pure metal is extracted from its ore in the refining fire of a super-heated furnace. Silver, copper, and other metals are commonly refined through this process by adding extreme heat and other catalysts. This breaks down the ore to release gasses, slag and rock gangue (the worthless parts of the ore) in order to render the metal more refined.
In the same way, the heat of life’s trials and testing is meant to cleanse us of non-Christ-like elements. These cleansings accelerate our growth into refined reflections and resemblances of God’s heart character, attitude, and personality. I refer to these as God’s CAP.
And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the mountain top (Exodus 24:17).
For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness (Malachi 3:2-3).
God, as a consuming fire, only consumes the dross in us. The smelting process is only intended to harm the dross and remove impurities—to clean us up. No heat or refining action is ever meant to harm the gold and silver, the real you.
The smelting process is only intended to harm the dross
and remove impurities–to clean us up.
Refined to represent God’s heart
It is the abundance of dross in our life that keeps us from being moldable in the Father’s hand. Our growth into the Father’s character, attitude and personality (CAP) traits requires us to let go of the impurities that keep us from becoming purer gold.
Thankfully, our heavenly Father’s love for us keeps Him seeking our good. He does not want to leave any of us in our impure or immature condition. Anytime we feel that the heat is turned up, it’s because God is going after more dross. As hard as it may be, we need to learn to let go of what we were, and keep grasping onto what we are becoming – a more godly person.
When we feel the heat is turned up, it’s because God is going after more dross.
The refining process transforms us into better representatives of God’s heart. Each time we endure cleansing activity, we become purer gold. Fine gold can be molded into many beautiful expressions. Isn’t this what we really desire?
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good… (Romans 12:2).
God sees us from His eternal perspective as pure gold and refined silver, even while we are still somewhere on the path to that purity. He looks beyond our dross and can see the God-like CAP (character, attitude, and personality) that is resident in us. It may be buried deep inside, but it is there. He lovingly refers to us as “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
God sees us as pure gold and refined silver
while we are still on the path to that purity.
Responding to Father’s refining love
The “apple of His eye” – does that seem too good to be true? Do you find it hard to believe He can love you that much? Our Father’s love has no limits. While it is a lot to grasp; when we respond to Him as adoring children, God responds and helps us see from His perspective.
God has special intentions for each of us in our individual situations and circumstances. Our maturing growth depends a lot on our response to His cleansing work in us. We want God to have His way in our life and to progressively do what is necessary to refine us.
Rahab the harlot responded well and was blessed (see James 2:25). Michal was born a princess but despised God’s work in David and fell short (see 2 Samuel 6:20-23). Gideon felt in-adequate but responded to God’s call and became a mighty deliverer (see Judges 6:7-8).
Our maturing growth depends a lot on our response to God’s cleansing work in us.
Molded into God’s best intentions
Growth requires that we be soft, flexible, and pliable. We cannot remain as we were for growth requires moldable change. While God is at work in us, our agreement is a necessity. God’s enabling grace will assist our transforming improvements only to the extent that we allow Him.
As we do our part and seek His help, we will be able to see the fires in our lives differently. Do we want to shortchange God’s best intentions for us by remaining weighed down by impurities?
Our trustworthy God’s consuming fire is only intended to release us into who He has created us to be. Let’s choose to be flexible, moldable, and pliable in His hands. Our cleansing level of maturity depends on it.
Keith Carroll, Relational Gospel Founder
Resources to help
We share resources about our relational God here on our website. Both of my books, The Christ Culture, A Way of Life Like No Other and Created to Relate, Insights Into Our Design and Purpose are available for your devotional read, and for purchase in printed or eBooks.
Many folks are finding my books to be insightful and stimulating reads, excellent for personal understanding and to share in small groups. We provide a Leader’s Guide to facilitate discussions.
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