Proverbs 27:17 (ESV) — Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Have you witnessed or seen a video of someone sharpening a sword, knife, or axe? The process includes blunt force, pressure, and friction. The iron from one object provides the resistance and strength to affect the other object. The result is that one object sharpens and shapes the other object.
Our passage today takes this process and produces a spiritual lesson from it. The proverbs are a book of wisdom sayings. They give us truisms about life. If we apply the things we learn in proverbs, we should grow in wisdom, knowledge, and godliness. Today’s passage is Proverbs 27:17. It says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”
The process of sharpening iron is invoked here to describe discipleship and godliness. How do men and women grow in godliness? Through the blunt force, pressure and friction of another person being in their lives. We need people who can rub up against us and challenge us. We need folks who have permission to look at our lives and put their finger on areas where we may be blind. Why? Because that’s how we grow.
I remember a leader in the church once challenging me. We were discussing some financial numbers of the church and we didn’t have much money. The budget was tight, and the person who had managed the money didn’t do a great job. I commented on how the person should have said “no” to certain spending requests that others made, rather than letting them spend the money. This man looked at me and said, “No, it’s your fault.” I was a young leader at the time and didn’t understand how it was my fault. I didn’t spend the money or approve it. He looked at me and said, “You’re the leader. It’s your responsibility. You didn’t lead him well enough.” He was right. And I’ve never forgotten the lesson.
We need people in our lives to speak truth to us. We need them to remind us of God’s promises when we’re down. We need older, more mature believers, to teach us lessons they have learned so we don’t have to learn them the hard way.
This makes us better disciples of Jesus. This makes us wiser and more knowledgeable Christians.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do so many Christians avoid having “iron” type people in their lives?
- What is a way that you can find some people to serve in this capacity in your life?
- How have you experienced growth in your life through the “iron sharpening iron” model?
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