October 5, 2010
Iron Sharpens Iron
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17 TNIV).
Friend To Friend
In my silverware drawer at home, I have about 15 knives of various shapes and sizes. However, I only use about four of them and the others simply are taking up space. The problem is, the other knives are dull and I've never taken the time to sharpen them. I could just toss them in the trash, but that seems like such a waste.
The same can be true in our own lives. The Bible says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17 TNIV). When we don't have friends that challenge us and encourage us to grow, we grow dull. Ultimately, we become "not the sharpest knife in the drawer" and other ones are chosen for tasks that we would love to do. Is there someone that God is calling you to sharpen? Is there someone who God is nudging you to invite to be a sharpening agent?
Jesus gave us a word of caution when it comes to "sharpening" our friends. Do it in love. Alice Miller has a good rule of thumb for correction: "If it is very painful for you to criticize your friends, you are safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that is the time to hold your tongue."
Bonnie is one of my friends that keep me sharp. Her sometimes brutal honesty is couched in such love for me that I can take the sharpening stone even if it hurts. It is a tough love that I have grown to appreciate and admire. Sometimes her honesty makes me burst out laughing.
Bonnie lives in Michigan and I live in North Carolina. Because I am a writer and she works for a publishing house, we frequently attend the same conventions. Bonnie and I take every opportunity to visit and room together at many of these meetings. One night, after a long exhausting day of meetings, Bonnie and I were snuggled in our adjacent beds chatting. I confided in her about an internal struggle I was having with a particular person.
"That's just plain old sin," Bonnie said.
"What?" I asked
"Sharon, that's sin. You need to pray about that," she flatly replied.
I have to tell you, I laughed till I cried. Who else but Bonnie would call a spade and spade and label my whining for exactly what it was. I love her to pieces. She's not afraid to pull out the sharpening stone when she notices I'm getting a bit dull.
But everyone can't be a Bonnie in our lives. She has earned the right to sharpen me because she loves me well. Likewise, we can't go around expecting to use our words to sharpen others around us without loving them first. Otherwise the words will have destructive power and will not be received at all.
As women, we love to soak in warm bubble baths, lather in fragrant soaps, and soften with aromatic oils. But all too often, when it comes to removing dirt from a friend, we pull out the hard-bristled scrub brush of harsh words and scrub, scrub, scrub. The end result is often not the removal of dirt, but a wounded, emotionally scraped and bruised soul. Powerful words are not caustic words. They are gentle, tender words wrapped in an attitude of love. Paul wrote to the Colossians, "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12).
We all make mistakes. The prophet Isaiah wrote, "We all like sheep have gone astray" (Isaiah 53:6). The composer Beethoven said it this way: "We all make mistakes, but everyone makes different mistakes." The philosopher Goethe remarked, "One has only to grow older to become more tolerant. I see no fault that I might not have committed myself."
I am not suggesting that we withhold the sharpening tool when it is needed. But just make sure it is well oiled with love and a gentle spirit before the rub begins.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for friends that have sharpened me over the years. I pray that I may be a friend that sharpens others with love and encouragement and never wounds with hurtful comments and scorn. Thank You for always lovingly correcting and encouraging me through the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
In Jesus' Name,
Now It's Your Turn
Do you have a special friend who keeps you sharp? If not, pray that God will send you one!
Make a list of ways that you can sharpen your friends. Look over the list carefully and prayerfully. Now - get started!
One way you can sharpen your friends is by passing along the Girlfriends in God devotions! Let's get sharp together!
Click on www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and tell me about a friend that keeps you sharp!
More From The Girlfriends
I don't know about you, but I want to be known as a person who is a sharpening stone, not a person who throws stones. If you would like to learn more about how to lovingly use your words to sharpen those in your sphere of influence, check out The Power of a Woman's Words. Not only will it change your life, but you'll learn how to use your words to change the lives of those around you!
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