As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
These are cherished words. We build men’s ministry around them. We superimpose them over a nice photo and post it to social media as a shout-out to our friends. We print them on T-shirts and hang them on our walls or sell them on every cheesy knickknack imaginable down at the local Christian bookstore. We have memorized these words. But I think we have missed the image.
The imagery here is not designed to be sentimental or pretty. Instead the vision cast in these words is one of friction, heat, and the hard work of authentic community.
How does iron sharpen iron? Not by speaking limp platitudes of faux encouragement. Not by surface-level pleasantries. Iron sharpens iron through the painful process of friction, one piece in immediate contact with the other, leaning into each other for the purpose of improving both. It hurts. But it’s one of the only ways to help.
Most of us claim to want authentic community. But we aren’t willing to pay the price for it. We bail at the first sign of friction, assuming that’s a red flag that the friendship isn’t working. But friction is the only way a friendship can work. To be devoted in Jesus-like love for your friends means that you are willing to lean into each other. You are willing to endure the friction and speak the truth in love and fight for another for the long haul. And along the way, this Jesus-like love ends up sharpening us both.
God of love, you designed us for relationship with you and each other. Teach us patience to lean into the friction of our friendships, and sharpen each other in the journey of discipleship.
How have the members of this group sharpened you in this journey? Share with one another, and express your gratitude.
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