As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
This iron sharpening Proverb is divinely inspired wisdom from God to help us encourage, challenge, and hold one another accountable. Truly the best sharpeners follow His written Word like a road map on how to navigate life. As we study, yes study, and read His Word, it should be like a penetrating oil working its way throughout our life, impacting our heart, while giving us hope, encouragement, and convicting us of our sins. If we are not reading God’s Word, how in the world do we know how to live as a Christian? And without the Word in our life, how will we know when we are in the middle of sin?
Romans 12:2 points us to our thoughts, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” So, it boils down to living by the world, or living by His will.
At the first of the year, I felt God nudging me towards an evening Total Body Challenge class. To be honest, I am more of a morning workout person, and my classes have always been at 8:30 and 9:45. My mind and body are alert in the morning, and by evening, it is ready to settle down. But I realize a lot of people are working and unable to fit my fitness schedule into their work life.
Even though it is a long drive back into town, it is a blessing when surrounded by people hungry for the Word and interested in taking care of the body God gave them. An exercise class helps people with accountability. As we come together, there is a naturally developing relationship between class members that spurs them to challenge, encourage, and sharpen one another, even though they may not agree on other subjects. It is living out the Word, “Iron sharpens iron!”
When the Word is incorporated into the workout, the dynamics of the workout changes. It takes the focus off oneself, and personal appearance, and places the emphasis on God, and His goodness and mercy. As a result of looking outwardly, relationships are no longer a one- way street. We engage in meaningful, transformative dialogue even though we may not agree on all issues. We should be sharpening one another with a heartfelt desire to help each other, and in turn, when listening, we reap rewards as well!
The Word is powerful, and many times as I meditate on a scripture verse the Lord gives for my class, my own heart is convicted. We know the wages of sin is death, but the weight of sin is heavy and destructive to the life you live. Mercifully, repentance and returning to God strengthens our entire bodies! Hebrew 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The Word of God is righteous, there are not two sets of rules. He offers justice and forgiveness to all who seek Him. As you all know, this is not true for the world! His Word is encouragement, with solid boundaries which motivate us to seek His will for our lives.
The Word reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” We have this promise from God in Deuteronomy 31:8, “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you, he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
But the Word does not say iron polishes iron. It does not call us to rub our friend’s ears with flattery and let them walk off the cliff in ignorance. We will talk to them about the weather, the basketball game, and the Super Bowl halftime show, but would not dare mention their plans about eternity. But then again, the Word does not say iron crushes iron, so be careful removing specks without prayerfully asking God for wisdom and opportunity.
We should encourage our pastors, preachers, clergy, and priests to speak truth without apologies. We should encourage them to go deep into the Word and speak openly about the hard subjects of SIN. We need to be held accountable. Yes, we need feel good messages, but we also need to take a long look in the mirror and not be doing our hair and makeup! We must tell our church staff, “We have your back, and more importantly, God is with you!
We should also be praying for, and encouraging, our friends to the north in Canada. Those folks have endured a sacrifice of freedoms including church doors being closed and pastors being arrested. Authoritarians believe the state takes the place of God. The Canadians do not enjoy the same freedom of speech provisions in their constitution that Americans experience. Therefore, we should not take our freedoms for granted. We should pray for our leaders, but always be willing to offer God’s Word for reflection because iron sharpens iron!