Sharpening Each Other

Sharpening Each Other

Proverbs 27:17

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”


                We may hear this verse referenced in a sermon about the church and what its members should be doing to help each other, or how a group of Christian friends should be trying to help others grow in the image of Christ. But, very seldom do we really look at this verse and see what it has to say and look at it in a logical way to see all the work that happening in this verse. Proverbs 27:17 is more than a verse you put on a coffee mug or place in a frame on your wall – no. This is the way of life that is meant to be lived in a Christian relationship.

                Have you ever seen a movie with a blacksmith as a character? Or maybe you have been to the fair and seen an actual blacksmith working. Do you remember what that looks like? It was probably really hot for the person doing the work because they work next to a big fire. It was probably really dirty because there are smoke and ashes flying all over the place. There was probably a lot of noise that was going on because of all the beating and bending of the metal to form it into the shape that you want. What I want us to see here is that it is not an easy process for iron to sharpen iron. It is dirty, hot, loud, uncomfortable work that has to be done. But, unfortunately, we as Christians usually come to a verse like this and read it as, “Man, that sounds really cool and catchy”, but we don’t think about the work that actually goes into sharpening someone else or someone sharpening us.

                When this starts to take place in two Christians lives, or maybe it is a group of 4 or 5 Christians that have said they are going to get together and pour into each other, it turns into nasty dirty work. That’s why it says “Iron sharpening iron” and not “stuffing pillows” or “planting daises”. This is hard work. People’s feelings are going to get hurt. Things will not go smoothly. You will get your feelings hurt. Don’t have the mindset going into this that things are going to be rainbows and sunshine all the time. There are going to be some days when that other person reveals the deepest part of you and you have to fall on your face before God, and it will hurt. And there might be some days when the other person might not want to talk to you because you have revealed something in their life that they needed to repent of. But those are some of the hard days that will come if you enter into a relationship where you are going to try to sharpen someone or have them sharpen you.

                But there is a bright side that comes with this. I don’t want to completely talk you out of ever pursuing a relationship like this. Think about all the up sides to being “sharp”, Biblically speaking. You are right with God. You are not only having yourself asking the questions that dig deep into the soul that is full of sin, but you also have someone else that is asking the questions also, and you are asking them. You are highly aware of any sin that is slipping into your life and might be taking over because there is now two of you looking out for such things. You are also able to find someone else to sharpen; to pour your knowledge into during this time.

                So while this will be hard work, people’s feelings are going to get hurt, deep kept sins will be brought to the surface, and repentance will be required, there is a bright and magnificent side this kind of work. Because what happens in relationship like this is people start to kind of lean in on each other. Because where I may struggle with a particular sin, you may be great at dealing with and can help walk me through this difficult time. And where you may struggle I may be able to help you out, and in the end we will both be pointing each other towards Christ. It is in all of this friction and pushing and pulling on one another that we start to really grow. As a community of believers we are called to “laugh with those who laugh, and mourn with those who mourn.” And when we start living as iron being sharpened these things start to come to the surface and we get sharpened and we grow, the other person grows, and inevitably the church starts to grow as a whole. So I believe that this is work that is worthwhile and will have an immediate effect on the body of Christ.
-Tyler Mooring