We believers like to toss Proverbs 27:17 out there to give credence to our small groups and other gatherings, but I’m not sure we do these words justice.
Have you ever sharpened an implement? An axe, a knife, a saw, a plow, or something else? You don’t use a nice soft cloth that buffs. No. You use a file, another piece of iron or stone that knocks off the rough, chipped edges.
When done well, there is a pile of tiny metal shavings below your sharpening spot where the implement has had to give way to the file.
This is what the friendship and fellowship of believers should be. First, in that group or that friendship, we get to know one another well enough to give and receive trust. In that trust and closeness, we recognize the dulling of the edge, the tiny chips missing that have lowered the integrity of this tool, that is, us. The tools in the Master’s hands.
A good workman doesn’t just recognize those chips and flaws and move ahead with the work. He sets about filing down that tool to remove the chipped places and return sharpness to the blade so that it is a tool fit for the job.
To be the iron that sharpens another, we must be willing to bravely mention the chips missing, the dulled blade, and work with that friend to repair those so that they are once again the useful and worthy tool in the Master’s hand, accomplishing all God has for them to accomplish.
That also means we have to be willing to be told there are chips missing and that our blade has become dull. These things happen over time, little by little, and we don’t notice that it takes longer and longer to do the work set before us. We just plod along.
A good friend, one we’ve allowed to speak into our life, is one who will notice the flaw and help us to repair it so that we can be all God designed us to be.
It’s hard to have someone check us. We don’t like being disagreed with or told we’re not all that, but it is necessary in order to be who we were designed to be.
Who do you have in your life that sharpens you? Today is a good day to begin the search, and not let go until you’ve developed the sharpening relationship you need.
Who are you sharpening? Not criticizing. Sharpening. Who are you helping to become the best tool the Master could choose? Today is a good day to start being that sort of friend.
Coffee, Bible, Journal.
A little extra…
What Abraham Lincoln said carries such wisdom. Too often, as believers we hear about this mission, this task, this ministry that needs to be done and we’re ready to go do it because it needs to be done. But we go unprepared. We go with edges that are dull. And do you know what happens when the edges of an axe are dull?
It becomes more like a narrow hammer. It destroys more than it cuts. Scissors that are dull rip. Instead of cut, a knife that is dull tears instead of slicing. So, what kind of tool do we want to be? Do we want to just be the hammer or do we want to be the one who says listen. Let me help you get to the place filing. Let me help you get to the place where you need to be. And you get after me and help me get to the place where I need to be. That is the friendship between believers. But it’s not easy, especially in this day and time.
We don’t like to disagree with one another, or we don’t like to call out wrongs. Unless we’re doing it. Again, we’re not supposed to do the yeah-yeah thing, our attitude towards sharing about a dull blade, about a life that’s not quite on track, is always to come from a heart of of love and of desire for restoration, because we recognize that whatever is going wrong in that person’s life is hindering them from being in a close relationship with the Savior. And if we love our friends as we love ourselves, we don’t want them to be in a place where they’re not in right standing with the Savior. We want their relationship with Him to be just as strong as it could ever possibly be.
And so, when we suggest to them that the blade is dull, that they might need some filing, it should always be from this heart of: Listen, I want you to be right with the Savior. I don’t want you to be as good as me, I’m probably not there either. I want you to be by the side of the Savior with unbroken relationship with with love and generosity, living the life that he created you to live. That also goes along with the thinking more of others than of ourselves.
We never do this from a place of condemnation, or “Aha! Gotcha!”
No. Always love. Always love. So, what do we do to get this kind of relationship? We have to be around other believers. And we have to be trustworthy. And we have to trust to be trustworthy, that means when somebody shares something, if we have said in a group that we’re not going to share the things that are shared there with anybody else, don’t share it with anybody else. Don’t even chit chat with the others in the group, unless you’re in the entire group. Be trustworthy.
If you are going to be in a group like that and you expect people to help you, you’re gonna have to break down those walls that don’t trust. You’re going to have to agree that even though they are flawed people (and if they’re breathing, they’re flawed), you’re going to trust them enough to be the ones who can file your edges down and help you grow toward the Lord, toward maturity in Christ.
It is scary, I get that. It’s scary because somebody might say something. Somebody might do something. Somebody might tell you something you don’t want to hear. But is it something you need to hear. That’s hard stuff. But it’s stuff we need to look at. It’s stuff we need to consider.
So today, I challenge you: Become a person who will sharpen the other, and become a person who will be sharpened by others.
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