Alright, if you have been around any church for a duration of time, you inevitably have heard the wonderful saying of “iron sharpens iron”. This is generally used in a relation to community, or group setting. Such great encouragement. The idea of people coming together to help each other. That we are better together than apart.
Now the reality and truth needs to be shared. This is such an encouraging statement and I believe many of us love rallying around others when they need us to help them sharpen up. When others are struggling and in need. We want to be there. All the crap we have gone through, we don’t want anyone to have to learn the hard way, like we did. We get all excited and want to do what ever we can to do our part.
Let’s be real about this. The person is drawn to this statement with the idea of seeing the dull knife, sword or axe become sharp. To be all it is intended to be, to be the best it can be. Then we are thinking we are sharpening others. How does that look? See, two knives are not rubbed together to make two sharp knives. In most cases a “steel” or stone is used to sharpen a blade.
Have you ever noticed that the thing that is doing the sharpening, does not have an edge? That the very thing that is putting a sharpness in action is just the opposite?
The more we continually engage in moments of sharpening others, and the less attention we allow to be on us, our own sharpness depleats. No matter how many hours one may rub that knife against that sharpening steel, the steel never gets sharp.
A person can go around proclaiming how iron sharpens iron and how fellowship and friendship is so great, but if they do not subject themselves to their own session of sharpening, they become quite dull. For your healthy engagement with others in an iron sharpens iron situation, you need to subject yourself to the notion that you need some attention yourself.
That comes from others coming along side of us and pointing out things in our life that need to be addressed. Some nicks, bumps and defects of character that need to be addressed in order to be made right. To allow us to be all we can be. To be the best we can be, to be sharp.
But in all logic, sharpening can be painful. The process is actually brutal when we think of the concept. The fastest and efficient way to get a good edge on a blade is with a grinder, and that causes some physical change on the blade.
The truth of the matter is, we do not tend to want to be subjected to the grinder of life. We go about our way trying to avoid the attention we need. We look to other people and find others not doing that well and justify that we are not “the dullest knife in the drawer”. We go about our way and just avoid the actual thing we need the most, sharpening.
If you ask people that work with knives or sharp tools, what is the most dangerous thing about using such objects, they will tell you a dull edge. A dull knife is way more dangerous than a sharp one. Doesn’t that also relate to us? Some of the most dangerous people for us to be around are dull, damaged people that think they are sharp?
Now that grinding action is not pleasant. In many times it can actually be very painful. Some of the things that are brought to our attention are not generally new to us. We are aware of them. We have been working on them for a while and we just have not finished. When in actuality, we are being prideful and don’t want to admit to others we need help. We rationalize away about how bad we have been and how far we have come, and we don’t need any help.
Do you know of the people I am describing? Or even the hard part, do you realize that you act that way when your friends point out your blemishes? Many times we just have to deal with reality and subject ourselves to the wheel. Here is a funny thought….
No matter how big you are; no matter how talented you are, no one can sharpen a blade by waving it in the air! To be able to sharpen any blade it takes physical interactions with other matter. That is us. We can not keep a sharp edge and be the best we can be if we isolate and are by ourselves. No matter how much we attempt to do on our own, you will have to subject yourself to the sharpening you so desperately need. We all need it.
Many times we hear that rally cry of “iron sharpens iron” and may it be an opportunity for us to examine ourselves and be honest that we do have flaws and defects of character that need some assistance. That partnership with others is so beneficial because they can help us see where were need some attention. None of us is exempt from the need of attention.
Let us remember that even if we are doing okay and we think our edge is pretty sharp, waving it around is not going to keep it sharp. No matter how sharp the edge it will get dull when used.
There is a great little video that the Skit Guys have done that talks about the pain that we can experience when we have areas of our life that need attention. In the video clip it begins with some humor and the guy takes the approach that it is no big thing and that a little attention can be good. In the video, God is coming along and using a chisel to complete his masterpiece. To knock the rough edges off of our lives. Notice that there are some things the guy just holds on to. He actually attempts to tell God that it is okay to leave it like it is. That he is good enough.
Enjoy this clip, and grasp on to the battle cry of “iron sharpens iron” and realize that it also calls for us to surrender and allow some attention to be given to our lives as well as helping others. Don’t end up a round, smooth sharpening steel that has no sharp edge at all.