Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Good friends are a blessing in life. Some are always ready to lend a helping hand when you have a task that requires a little extra help. Others are always encouraging you and carry with them a positive outlook on life that is a breath of fresh air in a cynical world. Additionally, you may have a friend that provides an excellent example of Christian maturity and watching them (and listening to them) inspires you in your walk with ChristWhile those kinds of friends are wonderful, today we look at the kind of friend that none of us should be without – the kind that challenges us directly.
We don’t think much about sharpening knives in the 21stcentury. If you have a dull blade you just grab the handy-dandy blade sharpening tool in the kitchen drawer or slide it through the automatic sharpening crevice on the back of an electric can opener. Not so when Solomon wrote today’s proverb. Back then, having a sharp blade was an arduous task that required a lot of friction as you brought one blade against another (or a whetting stone) time and time again until the edge became sharp and useful. A persistent force was required and applied with precision and care.
An “iron friend” can’t sharpen you with one speech or dialog…the process takes time. Consistency is the key. Friends like these are always looking out for one another. They offer constructive criticism in a loving tone, but when necessary, they are willing to speak more urgently when the situation calls for it. These friends always apply biblical truth as the standard in their lives and point one another upward towards Christ (1 Sam. 23:16). They ask the hard questions and challenge one another’s motives, never forgetting the plank in their own eye (Mt. 7:3-5). In essence, they are always “sharpening” one another.
One other “iron friend” you need in your life is Christ himself (Jn. 15:15). He offers unconditional love, despite your sin, but is willing to confront you about them as well. Jesus brings a plumb line into your life that helps you measure your words, actions, and motives against the Truth of God. He encourages you with his love and promises and sacrifice. He keeps every promise He makes and challenges you to do the same. Do you have regular “contact” with this Friend? It’s the only way you can be sharpened by His perfect blade.