Recently we attended a new (to us) home group. Part of the discussion was about the differences between being “sifted” and being “refined”. The following morning I woke up thinking about sifting and refining, which was followed by an email about being “peeled”, like an onion.
Okay, Lord. I believe you want me to see something here!
At the home group we discussed which is more difficult, sifting or refining. Some felt one way, others another way. After adding peeling to the mix, I’ve come to some conclusions. Admittedly, they are only my opinion, but for me, they seem correct.
I see the sifting as the beginning of the process…like separating the wheat from the chaff or mining for gold. It is a deliberate action which involves some shaking as the objects are sifted in order to remove the unusable material.
Isn’t that what God does with us?
He sifts our thought processes, beliefs, etc. in order to reveal the things that are of no value. It is necessary in order for us to realize when we are holding on to the things that are destructive in our lives.
· Hebrews 4:12: “For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power – making it active, operative, energizing and effective; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [that is, of the deepest parts of our nature] exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thought and purposes of the heart.”
After being sifted, I think we are then peeled. Peeling seems a little more personal, as layer by layer, we are stripped of the unnecessary parts of our mind, will, emotions…our very soul. The tough outer part is removed in order to reveal the tender inside, as we begin to see who we really are.
Peeling isn’t in the bible, but pruning is. And, the pruning/peeling removes the dead, useless, unproductive parts, leaving the part that can grow and produce.
· John 15:2: “Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit – that stops bearing – He cuts away (trims off, takes away). And He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.”
My theory is that after the peeling we are refined. There are rough edges to be polished and fine tuning to be done. To me the refining is precise and gets to the heart of the matter. We may look good to the casual observer, however to the Master Creator, we are still in need.
· Zechariah 13:9: “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will hear and answer them. I will say, ‘It is My people; and they will say, The Lord is my God.”
Personally, I think the refining is the most difficult part of the process, because we are being rid of everything that is not of God.
Also, the thing about the process…Sift, Peel/Prune, Refine…is that is it never ending. When we get lax in our relationship with God, or we are teetering on the precipice about to have a major fall, He is faithful to repeat the process until we line up once again with His plan for us.
I think as we walk in closer and closer communion with Him, we will, at times, be able to skip the sifting or peeling, but I think we are always being refined. His Spirit speaks to our hearts and repentance comes. His Word will truly be Rhema to us and renew our minds, and our thought process changes. We can also be refined by hearing a Spirit inspired song that brings us to our knees. His refining ways are limitless. Sometimes gentle, but sometimes very painful.
I know that I may kick and scream as the sifting, peeling and refining are done, but deep down, in my heart of hearts, I know it is best for me.
I’m so thankful that my Lord sees a treasure in me. He won’t leave me in my untransformed state, but will do whatever is necessary to reveal who I really am.