After reading the “verse of the day” on my YouVersion Bible app (one day last week), I made this post based on a verse that is familiar to many:
Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.Proverbs 27:17 NLT
Do you have a goal to be sharper, to become better at your craft? That means a willingness to be critiqued, even if critics may not have the best intentions. Instead of feeling hurt because we are hearing criticism, we could see this criticism as an opportunity for growth. Criticism has come in my life, and I have felt like my best was not good enough, so the criticism was at first, not helpful to me. It was only after moving past the hurt feelings I was able to see that the critique was meant to improve me.
Differences of opinion can cause sparks to fly in relationships, but maybe the other person does have a point. What can be learned from this difference?
Why are the sparks flying? Is it not to make the instrument sharper? We often take what is being said personally and are hurt by it, rather than accept it as a refining moment to make us sharper.
If we dig deeper, we’ll discover that there is value in the sparks, particularly because the sparks provide evidence that something is being filed away from us. If that something remains, it means we are not being sharpened. It is for this very reason:
You can trust a friend who corrects you.Proverbs 27:6a CEV
The sharper the tool, the better it functions and the easier the work becomes. If the axe is not sharp, you will work much harder to cut down the tree. If you are iron that is not connecting with iron that is different than you, you are missing out on becoming sharper.
Maybe this idea of becoming sharper best defines the purpose in coming together with other people – it’s to motivate others, or to make others sharper, moving them toward specific actions.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.Hebrews 10:24 NLT
In the verse that follows (Heb. 10:25), we are instructed about “not neglecting to meet together.” Maybe the very purpose of our coming together is: “to motivate one another,” in essence sharpening one another. I have often heard the instruction about “assembling ourselves together” as the church, gathering for fellowship which is good, but it may not be the best or even the biblical reason to come together. By coming together, we may get to know our neighbour better, but the higher purpose is to become sharper, motivated because there was an interaction together as friends.
When Cathy and I first started to date, it was because we felt we had so much in common and enjoyed one another’s company. Now, after being together married for 36+ years, the differences have become more evident and personality tests have confirmed we are more opposite than alike. Interestingly, despite our personality differences, we still have some important things in common, like our passion for ministry and love for family. Our differences have served to sharpen each of us, but we first needed to understand that criticism was not meant to hurt, but to improve one another.
So my advice is this: Let’s get together and let the sparks fly so we can become sharper – that way we don’t have to work as hard!