When we visited China several years ago, we frequented several shopping centers. Dozens of vendors descended upon myself and my wife, eager for us to purchase their merchandise. The prices were amazingly low but we were wary, having been warned by numerous tour guides and travel books that many of the products were fakes. In fact, it may require an expert to discern the difference. So while we eagerly examined the various items of clothing, we wore a look of concern as we desperately sought clues to separate the real items from fake. Our hesitation caught the attention of one vendor who immediately declared, “Why aren’t you buying? You think it’s fake, don’t you?”
We sheepishly muttered, “Maybe.”
Undaunted, the vendor pulled out a lighter and produced a flame. He then held the flame under the sleeve of a leather jacket. “See! It’s real!”
The simple test was the vendor’s way to prove to us that the jacket was made of genuine leather and not vinyl or plastic, which would have melted with the flame. Clever!
Tested with fire!
And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “They are my people”; and they will say, '”The LORD is my God.”
Zechariah 13:9 (ESV)
In this Bible passage, Zechariah prophesied to the Israelites that God would cut off two thirds of their unfaithful nation. The remaining third would be tested with the fire of trials, to refine, strengthen, and confirm their faith. In the same manner, God often tests me with the fire of trials to see if my faith is real or fake. During many times of my life, I have clung to weak and shaky doctrine. Like a clever fake item of clothing, I was duped by the outward appearance. I was enamored of the messenger but did not hold the message up the light of God’s Word and seek the refining fire of the Holy Spirit.
Tested with fire!
God’s Holy Spirit is the refining fire of my life. Only by obeying Him will I know how to discern the real truth from false doctrine and the deceivers.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.