It was a spectacular sight. Exclamations of awe were heard from the dinner guests. The hostess had just set the dessert on the table – a scrumptious Christmas pudding alongside with cream, both home-made! As if that wasn’t enough of a treat, the hostess’s mother lovingly cautioning us to get out of her way brought a saucepan with ignited brandy to set the pudding ablaze. Cameras clicked from various angles – but not one flash could compete with the magnificent flame from the pudding.
This igniting process is called flambé. It is done for a dramatic effect and to develop a rich flavour of the liqueur to the foods without adding the alcohol (http://www.flambe.in/). The food is enriched but not burnt. It reminds me of Moses seeing the bush on fire but not burn up (Exodus 3:3)! As believers, God seems to do a ‘flambé’ on us too! He enriches our flavours – to restore us into His Image. The Old Testament speaks of putting through the fire for cleansing. In other situations, like a teacher who gives us a test at the end of each syllabus, God tests us for us to know where we stand! (At least we are blessed that it is always an open book exam with the Bible in our hands and the Holy Spirit for inspiration – but sadly we still fail more often than not… I certainly do and I wish it weren’t so!).
God tells the Israelites through the prophet Isaiah, “I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). Yet He had already promised them, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2). It’s important to note that the LORD didn’t say “IF” you walk through the fire, but rather He mentioned “WHEN” you walk through the fire. God issues a warning through the prophet Zechariah. He says that while two thirds of the land will perish, one third He “will bring into the fire.” He continues, “I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say. ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” (Zechariah 13:6).
Of course, the quality of each man’s work will determine whether God would perform a flambé or whether God will burn things down! “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:12).
What is the quality of your work? Which foundation are you building up on and how?
What do you think God is, or will be doing on you – a flambé or burning up?