on Iron

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”. ~ Proverbs 27:17, the Bible

A few years ago my husband bought me a set of good kitchen knives for Christmas, complete with a sharpening tool. I love to cook, and a set of good knives makes a world of difference in the preparation of a meal. However, they still need to be sharpened in order to ensure that they stay in good shape. Knives that are dull aren’t good for much.

When you sharpen a knife, have you noticed that in the process of doing so, metal dust is left behind? As the sharpening tool rubs up against the edge and removes the dull portions, it leaves a razor edge in its wake. But something must be removed in order for the blade to become sharp. The hard blade must meet something equally as hard in order for the process of sharpening to work.

Life is kind of like the sharpening of a knife. When people surround themselves with those who gently challenge them, who push them to reach, and who call them to strive to be better, they grow stronger, sharper, and better able to accomplish great things. But, when people surround themselves with those that give way to the will of others, with those that are merely “yes men”, with those who look to encourage their comfort rather than their character, they become weak, dull, and content to settle. You see, just like the metal dust remnants of a kitchen knife’s blade, a true sharpening requires the leaving of one’s old self behind, and that can be painful. It is a far easier thing to just push up against something soft – it won’t sharpen you, but neither will it interfere with your comfort.

Perhaps that is why we see many of those running for political office change once the primaries and general elections are over. Instead of surrounding themselves with those they trust that can push them out of their comfort zone and help them grow and be both better people and wiser servants, they take the far easier route, surrounding themselves with those that think exactly like them. No longer faced with the challenges of an electoral opponent, they feel it unnecessary to remain sharp, eventually growing soft and compliant, comfortable in their ease and resentful of anyone who asks the tough questions. Instead of embracing the growth that comes with life’s sharpening, they run away from it, content to remain in, and even fight for, dull complacency.

As I said earlier, knives that are dull aren’t good for much. They can only cut the very soft and pliable things; the tough things need knives that are sharp and ready for duty. It is a natural human tendency to not want to experience the pain that comes with meeting up with those hard things in life, even though we know that they are necessary to sharpen us. Removing those dull bits means leaving parts of us behind, parts that we are comfortable with, but usually end up not being good for either us, those we love or those we serve. It is a far easier task to avoid those people and things in life that challenge us, and remain like those dull knives rarely used. It is up to us to choose which one we ultimately want to be.

So… who or what in your life are you allowing to sharpen you?

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful”. Proverbs 27: 6, the Bible

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