Iron Sharpens Iron
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing. A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one’s right hand. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
These verses describe three very different ways of relating to people. Take your pick. First the Idle Flatterer (v. 14), who seeks favor for himself by oiling his relationships with compliments, flattery, and ostentatious friendliness (rather than genuine good will or caring good works). He goes out of his way (rising early in the morning) to project an image of warmth; but God sees behind the mask. In time others do too—so all his flatteries will be counted as cursing.
Then there is the Intimate Enemy (vv. 15, 16)—represented by a quarrelsome wife. From family and friends (especially wives!) we expect comfort or counsel, or maybe loving confrontation. We don’t expect harping, fault-finding, and nit-picking. Which makes me ask: What would those closest to you say . . . about you? (Or me?)
Finally, there is the People Builder (v. 17). People-building is a two-way relationship—Iron sharpens iron—two people give what they can and receive what they need to grow in the faith. The Apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome, I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you. Yes, he is an apostle—the expert, so to speak—but, no, this is not a one-way relationship. For Paul adds immediately, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine (Rom. 1:11, 12).
Welcome to Christ Church this Lord’s Day. Iron sharpens iron . . . is a picture of what it means to be the people of God. In the words of King David, let us take sweet counsel together; let us walk together within God’s house (Ps. 55:14).
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