Words by our Priest-in-Charge:
Refining Fire or Consuming Fire?
“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” (Mark 9:49)
I have been sharing at our staff meetings on Mark recently. On Thursday morning, I shared with the staff on Mark 9-10, in particular, verse 49. Jesus said these words after His warning to His disciples about the severe consequences of sins. He warned the disciples that it is better for them to cut off the sinning part of a person’s body than keep sinning and suffer the consequences of hell. Verse 49 as recorded by Mark, was intended to be read in continuation from the preceding verses.
We often hear that “No one is perfect”. How true. Jesus, I am sure, knew that as a fact when He said those words in Mark 9:49. Since everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), everyone therefore will “attract” the seasoning through fire. This fire that Jesus talked about was not necessary the consuming fire of God’s judgment. Because Jesus also subsequently said, ..”every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt”. This fire obviously also implies a refining fire, the refining that comes through self-discipline and repentance in response to our sins, a conscious effort to look sins in the eye and take them seriously, a response to the warning and correction from the Lord. Refining fire brings out the best that is hidden in us, concealed under unrefined characters, marred by sins. Its purpose and intent is not to harm, destroy or judge, but to build up, restore and strengthen, so that God’s glory might be seen in us.
A consuming fire, on the other hand is the fire of God’s judgment. It comes to the unrepentant. The same fire that comes from the Lord in our lives on this side of eternity could be either a refining fire or a consuming fire. The factor determines it is our response. If we respond in a godly manner in humility, repentance and self discipline, the refining fire will mold us into the man or woman whom God desire us to be. If we respond in hardheartedness, in pride and contempt towards God, the consuming fire will come upon us as God’s judgment.
The Lord’s heart towards sinners has always been compassionate and gracious. It is our response which will determine the outcome of our future. The decision we make in response to God’s word is of paramount importance, it could set us apart for greatness, or it could cause us to walk contrary to God’s will and purpose for our life.
The choice, really, is ours.