You may not be aware of how the metal you are using comes to be. Most metals are dug up in an unusable form. They have to be made usable. There are three primary methods to get the raw material to be more like the goal: mechanical (e.g., crushing), chemical (i.e., acid), and temperature (i.e., fire). Each of these is used for different metals, and also depends on what the end goal of the metal is. If, for example, you are going to throw it in to mix with a bunch of melted stuff (i.e., not looking for purity), you would use chemicals to break down the bonds. If you just need raw material, you might just smash it until it’s as small as you want (it won’t stick together very well, though).
For purity and cohesion, fire is best. The metal your car is made from (at least some of it) was melted in a huge vat and became molten. Stuff will be added in known quantities to get the end properties desired, such as strong steel. Most gold that is worn is a gold alloy, where gold has stuff added to make it stronger without affecting its beauty. Gold is valued, primarily, because people value it (a circular argument, for sure). It is easily shaped for decorations (and people like to adorn themselves with it). It was used for money (can still be). In our day and age, its greatest value is not jewelry, but electronics. It is a fantastic conductor. Not enough is used in your electronics to try to get it, however, it does improve the abilities of electronics to do their tasks using less electricity. Gold, even in the days of diamonds and platinum, is still the primary precious metal, and it was the best known precious metal in Jesus’ and Paul’s day.
Due to that, gold (along with silver, the second most valued metal) were a good subject lesson in regards to people. In the letter to Laodicea, Jesus talks about the Laodiceans blindness to their own poverty. Jesus is speaking spiritually. The church of Laodicea is lacking in spiritual growth. The Laodiceans think they have it all together and are good to go. Yet, they are lacking. How often are we like they were? Thinking in all our blessings that we have it all together. There are false teachers who teach exactly that. Laodicea is our object lesson that this isn’t so. Laodicea was a wealthy city, but the church was spiritually poor. Laodicea was the home of a medical school known for an eye-balm, yet they were blind. Laodicea was also known for its cloth, yet they were naked.
They needed to be refined. They had no money to buy the refined gold (cleansing and salvation). God would sell it to them anyway. With that gold, they could buy True eye-balm to see their real spiritual state. With that gold, they could buy the clothes that would cover their True nakedness. In other words, God’s got it covered…if they respond. Then we get to the hard part, to receive all of that (which they thought they already had), they had to be rebuked and disciplined (i.e., refined).
1) Have you have thought you had it all together in your life, and then everything came crashing down? How about spiritually? How was your response different between the two events?
2) Why are rebuke and discipline part of the refining process? What other words would you use?
3) It is reasonable to look at ourselves as the “raw material” that God refines. Where do you think God used each of the three methods (mechanical, chemical, temperature) to refine you?