As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. - Proverbs 27:17
Today's verse is one that is quoted often when referring to healthy and productive friendships. Just as iron is used to sharpen iron, a man or woman is used to sharpen his or her friend. What is this verse really saying? How do we apply this wise proverb to our friendships?
To sharpen a knife (even the basic kitchen knife) we must use a metal tool designed to sharpen the blade. Wood will not do the job, nor will plastic or glass. Certain types of stones were used in ancient times but many of the knives were also composed of stones or metallic substances. It takes a substance of similar strength and durability to handle the friction required to sharpen the object. Sharpening in itself is a process of fine grinding, requiring just enough to remove the dull edges. How does this compare to sharpening a friend? The knife is without a will of its own. It is in complete submission to the person doing the sharpening. Friends, however, have wills and opinions, and are much less likely to submit.
To sharpen the countenance of a friend we must first love them. When our motives are founded on love, our words and actions will reflect the love in our hearts. The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love and that without love, nothing we do really matters anyway. It is when we truly love a friend that we are willing to take the steps necessary to sharpen them. Just as with a knife, the process requires friction, some grinding and the removal of bad edges. And, just as with a knife, a person of similar strength and durability is required to handle the job. Sharpening involves heat, intensity and duration. A loving friend knows when heat and friction are needed, despite how long or intense the process. A loving friend is honest, even to the point of pain. If we are willing to submit to that friend, then we will be sharpened. Friends willing to work through these things in the Lord will bear much fruit together.
Do you have a friend who sharpens you? Are you the kind of friend who sharpens others? God has given us friends for His purposes. We have the greatest Friend of all as Jesus calls us His friends. He will sharpen us if we submit to Him. Friendships based on prayer and love will result in growth and maturity. Pray for your friends today. Ask the Lord to lead you in how to sharpen them. Also, ask the Lord to help you receive their counsel. If we place everything in God's hands, He will work through us in mighty ways. And one of the greatest ways to see God work is through our friendships.
~Daily Disciples Devotional~