Iron Sharpeneth Iron

Proverbs 27:17 reads: "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." There are ways that a person can be "sharpened" only by the help of another person. One of those ways is to pray for your friend. The Lord can do more to "sharpen" us than anyone else. The Apostle Paul constantly prayed for his brothers and sisters in Christ. We find in Colossians 1:2-3: "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you". 

We can help sharpen our friends, and they us, by giving counsel to them. This is often done by exchanging ideas with them from the Bible. Sometimes, things they have never considered before will come to light, or may enlighten us. 

In the Psalms it is recorded that David had a friend who reproached him. But before this took place we are told that the two had "sweet counsel together". Chapter 55:14 says: "We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company." This verse sounds like two good friends sharpening each other.  Being a good, consistent example to your friend is one of the strongest ways that you can sharpen him or her. I know this is true for me. Watching the good example of my friend, even in tough times, strengthens me almost like in no other way. 

This is true, especially of the example of Jesus, who was completely steadfast even in the the most trying of times. We are to have the same mind of Christ (see Philippians 2:5-8).  We are also to edify, or build up, one another. 

Paul admonished the Thessalonians in I Thessalonians 5:11: "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." To the Corinthians Paul wrote: 

 "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying" (I Corinthians 14:26).  I believe that one reason the Lord Jesus sent His disciples out two by two in their ministry was so that they would help sharpen each other. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us: "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up." 

We find the manner of Jesus sending the disciples out two by two in Luke 10:1: "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come." 

Together, these disciples could encourage one another, help each other, inspire one another, and give each other ideas in the ministry. Perhaps we would have more success in our ministries today if we worked together in pairs.  Finally, we can sharpen our friend's countenance if we hold him or her accountable. This is not a popular concept today when folks like to operate as "lone rangers". And this idea needs to be acceptable to both parties involved. Paul ordered Timothy to: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Timothy 4:2). 

Not everyone is a preacher, of course, but all can still reprove, rebuke, and exhort when the time is right for such action. 

Just like a good file will sharpen an ax blade so that the ax can cut more efficiently, so too a person can sharpen the countenance of his friend so that both that person and he or she can be a better servant of the Lord. May we learn this vital skill so that the kingdom of heaven will be further built up for eternity. "