Are You Sharp?

We all need the kind of friend that will tell us the truth about ourselves—let's be that kind of friend for someone else.

February 27, 2020

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."

Proverbs 27:17

“Iron sharpeneth iron.”
These three words summon up images of workmen sharpening their tools.  Scraping the file against the blade.  Rubbing the hone-steel until the metal has a razor edge on it.  It reminded me of years in my youth when I worked outdoors to pay my college bills.  Cutting hay, chopping wood, digging post holes, all involved using steel tools that must be sharpened with steel.  I can still remember the smell of the steel scraping against steel.  This kind of work is that sweaty, grimy, get your hands dirty type of work.  And to be successful in it, the tools must be sharp!

Can you see this as a picture of the believer’s life?  If he/she wants to stand for God, to do a job that counts for eternity, then his/her tools must be sharp.  He or she must be ready for the work at hand.  It is possible to cut down a tree with a dull machete, it takes so much work, and it’s prolonged.  But how much easier it is, and how much more efficient it is when that machete has a razor-sharp edge.  If we are going to serve our great God, we need to be sharp, honed for His service.

“So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
The problem with being willing to be sharpened by our friends is that we will need to learn how to put up with the smoke, sparks, pounding, grinding, and the heat.  It is not a place of comfort but of discomfort.  It is not easy, it is painful.  But it is precious to our character and our souls.  Here’s what some godly men think about it:

“We shudder to think what cold and undeveloped beings we should be without the sharpening of friendship” [1] (Meyer).

“…that one help another to culture and polish of manner, rub off his ruggedness, round his corners, as one has to make use of iron when he sharpens iron and seeks to make it bright”[2] (K&D).

“…a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend — Quickens his ingenuity, enlivens his affections, strengthens his judgment, excites him to virtuous and useful actions, and makes him, in all respects, a better man”[3] (Benson).

“The writer of Proverbs observed that sharp people sharpen one another, just as iron sharpens iron.  If you want to be a sharp thinker, be around sharp people” (John C. Maxwell).

We need a good friend, and let’s be a good friend.




[1] F.B. Meyer. Through the Bible Day by Day, the electronic version in eSword.
[2] Keil & Delitzsch, Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, the electronic version in eSword.
[3] Joseph Benson, Joseph Benson’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments, the electronic version in eSword.