“As Iron Sharpens Iron”

Tomato harvest on Hirsh farm 9/9/19Yesterday our neighbors on Colebrook Road harvested tomatoes which will likely be used for making tomato sauce. Brooksyne was unable to get a photo of the ladies working in the front of the harvesting machine. Notice the truck full of tomatoes in the background behind the harvester.

“As Iron Sharpens Iron”

This week we will share series of messages seeking to learn lessons from several of the tools mentioned in the Bible.

Message summary: A lesson about sharpening one another.

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.
“Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm” (2 Timothy 4:14). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24,25).

We serve several companies that work with metal. We see laser cutting, welding, huge brakes and presses and many types of machining tools. The tools in these machines require tool steel which is harder than the steel piece being manufactured.

All through human history, since Tubal-Cain began to forge bronze and iron (Genesis 4:22), people have worked with metals. Coincidentally, one of the saddest verses in the Bible is about a trouble-making metalworker in Paul’s final chapter, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm” (2 Timothy 4:14).

Proverbs 27:17In contrast to Alexander’s trouble-making spirit let us consider how we may do good to others using a metal illustration found in the Proverbs! “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This verse is a favorite among men (although the principle also works for women).

Many years ago I attended a men’s conference with that theme and there is a national men’s ministry called “Iron Sharpens Iron”. I suppose the verse may especially connect with men because of how we may associate the proverb with tools we use.

As is the case with many of the Proverbs there is nothing in the immediate context to further clarify the author’s intended meaning. The Holman Study Bible notes, “As a file sharpens an ax or a sharpening steel a carving knife, good friends encourage one another to grow in wisdom and godliness, even if it requires painful criticism”.

The Life Application Bible has this note,

“There is a mental sharpness that comes from being around good people. And a meeting of minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights. This requires discussion partners who can challenge each other and stimulate thought – people who focus on the idea without involving their egos in the discussion; people who know how to critique the thought and not the thinker. Two friends who bring their ideas together can help each other become stronger.”

Hebrews 10:24 expresses a similar concept, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”

Well, in the spiritual sense we would like to spur you on today! The word “spur” translates a very rare Greek word (paroxusmos) found elsewhere in the NT only in Acts 15:39 where it describes the contention between Paul and Barnabas regarding John Mark, “The contention was so sharp between them”. Tracing the roots of this word we find it comes from two words with the sense “to sharpen alongside”. The writer of Hebrews uses it here in a positive sense to describe an essential Christian responsibility. We need to come alongside one another to keep each other sharp! The NASV uses “stimulate” and the KJV “provoke.” The New Living Translation states, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”

I’ve been sharpened over the years by thoughtful friends in Christ as well as those who have led by example. I hope I’ve been a sharpener as well when I could spur another on by my words, preceded by a sensitive spirit and prayerful attitude. It’s encouraging to hear years later an individual express how something I’ve said either in a sermon or to them personally had a lasting sharpening impact.

The sharpening itself may be thought-provoking and at times even painful, but in the end I am stronger and better for it. Sadly, for the sake of a surface unity and mushy love, we may neglect this sharpening task and seek to avoid it, whether we’re the one sharpening or the one being sharpened.

This sharpening process may take place at home, at work or in church. It may be through an accountability partner. You just might meet up with a sharpening friend today. How you react is a real test of character as God often uses other people to mold His character into our lives.

Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer:  Father, I confess that in the process of being molded and fashioned into Your likeness I am often unyielding and struggle in the process of becoming more like You. Thank You for placing people in my life who model godly character and who courageously speak words of direction and correction when I most need it. Help me to graciously receive these messengers and promptly respond to the message they bring when it is supported Scripturally and spoken from a wise and loving heart. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Some scenes from our neighborhood
Tomato harvest on Hirsh farm 9/9/19
Perhaps this farmer’s wife decided to load up some of the best tomatoes to sell at their roadside stand, to the north of our home.
Kraybill Church Road Amish children 9/9/19
Yesterday afternoon Ester took this photo near the Scenic Ridge School on our road.
It appears to be a young boy pulling a roller with a small wagon hauling smaller children behind that! Some of our readers who grew up on a farm will surely remember some of the makeshift equipment, wagons or anything that moved on wheels being adapted to having some fun while doing the unending list of farm chores.
Kraybill Church Road Amish children 9/9/19
Another view.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Be the One”  Video  Al Denson