Have you ever watched a metal smith at work? My brother learned to make knives a few years ago, and I was able to spend some time watching him heat the metal in his makeshift forge. It created thin flakes on top which were pounded off as he shaped the blade. And then he spent hours grinding and polishing the knife until he was able to sharpen the edges. That image stuck in my mind as I read this verse:
“Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.”
The interesting thing about this passage is that the second half is translated as one man sharpens the face or countenance of another. The NET Bible notes explain it as the learning process that comes in constructive debate or two students quizzing one another. There are many examples of strong friendships becoming stronger through conflict, including Paul’s confrontation of Peter (see Galatians 2). Peter later wrote a commendation of Paul’s work, showing the deep respect and friendship between the two church leaders (see 2 Peter 3).
How do you sharpen other believers? Knives are sharpened by friction, by flakes of metal coming off the edge. How often do you disagree with other believers or even your pastor? Do you challenge them to take a closer look at the Bible?
“24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching,” Hebrews 10:24-25.
Acts tells how the early church met daily to read the Scriptures and talk over it. While we physically do not choose to meet every day, modern communication methods allow us to interact daily. But at the same time, it is easy to say “how are you…fine” and never connect on a level that challenges our lifestyle or perspective. There are a myriad of topics that the world is evaluating today: who can decide when a baby or elderly person will die? How will we define a marriage or a family? What drugs are illegal? When is porn wrong? Why are there so many acts of terrorism?
These are not questions that we can answer with a single verse, or in a quick text message. When someone asks your opinion, do you have one to give? And does it line up with what the Bible has to say? I personally have some work to do!
The gift of other believers to journey with is one of God’s greatest blessings for us. How will you lovingly exhort other believers today to honor God in how they live?
God, thank You for the Body of Christ and how we can interact with each other in such powerful ways. Thank You for healthy confrontation, disagreements, and big questions about the Bible…they keep us on our toes and challenge us to not get stuck in one picture of who You are. Questions remind us that we cannot understand You. Please help me see how I can encourage people to see You better, and be ready to learn as they do the same for me. I look forward to Your coming. Amen.