Thursday, December 3, 2009

Iron Sharpens Iron

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
(Pro 27:17)

Ever tried to cut into something with a dull, raggedy old knife, when the edge of the blade is pitted and worn round?
Not only are the results frustrating, but getting the job done is just more work. And getting the job done right just isn't going to happen. You just make do with what you've got.

Christians are the same way. In the ancient days soldiers didn't have the shiny, oily, beautiful works of art strapped to their belts like they do in Hollywood. They had big, meaty, ugly looking weapons that packed a punch, and there was nothing polished about them. But, and this is a big but, they did have great workmanship in keeping sharp edges. A good soldier worked his blade to a sharp edge, because that was his tool, not because it was pretty.

The verse gives us a great visual about how friends can sharpen one anothers countenance. The word means "face". What? Yes. Picture it this way, when you're happy, you smile. When you're mad, your eyebrows and forehead wrinkle up, and when you're tired your eyes droop. Your face, your countenance, shows your mood, your demeanor, at any given time of the day.

So when friends come together, it's biblical. We aren't meant to be islands, isolated from fellowship. It may not always be appealing since by nature even I'm a good hermit, but it is still necessary if I expect to be any kind of a useful tool in the hands of Christ, to keep that sharp edge. To work and rub through the burrs and pits in life.

When you encourage, admonish, lift up or even rebuke out of love for one another, you are in effect, sharpening the demeanor, the mood of your friend, and yourself. Iron sharpens iron.

But it's a two way street.

By sharpening, we grow stronger together, because we show one another that we care.
In contrast, if you do any of those things without love, you may as well be hacking away at your friend. While you're tearing them down you're really tearing yourself down, and you both wind up dull and uninteresting. The tool master finds Himself working harder than He needs to get the job done, and when the results are mediocre at best, how long will it be until that tool gets set off to the side or even thrown out, replaced by another? The job will get done with or without you, Christian. It's up to you to keep yourself in working condition.

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