The Blacksmith's Hands
There are plenty of tasks I’m not suited for. Actually, let me be honest: there are plenty of tasks I don’t find enjoyable. I am genuinely thankful God chose to place my life in the modern time. Going to the grocery store to gather meat to cook for my family’s dinner is way more appealing than hunting animals in the woods. The idea of having to drain the blood then peel the skin and fur off an animal before I can eat doesn’t excite me.
I recognize how good we have it. I recognize technology is a blessing that allows someone like me to enjoy materials and goods that historically had to be fashioned over long periods of time with great skill and precision. My appreciation grows when I go to the fair or a historical place that features blacksmiths applying their trade. As I watch a blacksmith repeat his cycle of heating metal, pounding metal until it’s flatter, and bending metal while it’s hot, there is one detail that I cannot miss…his hands. The blacksmith’s hands are covered in black soot and calloused from the hard work. Show me a blacksmith with clean hands and I’ll show you a blacksmith who is failing at his job.
Excuse the pun, but these images of blacksmiths are burned into my mind when I read Malachi 3:2-3 as it speaks about God working on our holiness until he returns. For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.
Silver has to be heated in the fire to remove the dross, those impurities that are mingled in the silver but separate when exposed to the extreme heat in the refiner’s fire. A good metal worker waits for that moment the conditions align, the dross is exposed, and he sweeps it away from the silver, leaving nothing but that pure precious metal. Do you see the power of this image applied to God’s presence and work in your life? He sits and watches carefully over you. Yes, he allows trials and difficulties into your life, but the heat of these circumstances is used to expose the impurities that are entwined in our lives. Christ pays great attention to his work in your life, and he will not abandon the work he started. (Philippians 1:6) Like the blacksmith, Jesus’ hands are covered in the dirt and grime that it takes to mold me into his likeness. I take great comfort in the fact that he personally oversees the process of my sanctification, a process that will continue until I reach eternity and I am made complete in Him.
Brother and sister in Christ, don’t ever think that God has saved you and then expects you to figure out holiness on your own. Don’t lose sight of the presence of God to make you holy. Remember that we must abstain from every form of evil because evil seeks to destroy us and corrupt our lives. If that sounds overwhelming, remember: The God of peace himself will sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. – 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24