Iron Sharpeneth Iron Prov. 27:17 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Today we are going to consider Prov 27:17, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Solomon applied a practical and common event, sharpening a knife or blade, to a beneficial aspect of friendships between men. The steel and the blade are of the same material. From this metaphor of sharpening a blade, we learn the following:
Blades are sharpened against steel – It takes friction against steel. So, the best friendships are friendships where there is some friction. Each man makes the other better. Open rebuke is better than secret love [Prov 27:5]. He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favor than he that flattereth with the tongue [Prov 28:23]. You need friends in your life who don’t always go along with you. They’ll stand up to you like Paul did to Peter in Gal 2, or like Jesus did to Peter in Matt 16. Peter was a better man as a result of both of these sharpening events in his life. You need tough preaching. Blades aren’t honed with a feather. This softer preachers are not making sharper Christians. There is not enough hard preaching. You can really tell the difference between a Lester Roloff, for instance, and a Joel Osteen.
Knives are sharpened at the precise angle of the blade – otherwise sweeping the blade across the steel dulls it. It takes skill to sharpen a blade [1 Sam 13:19-21]. It takes skill to sharpen the countenance of your friend. Your speech is with grace seasoned with salt. You speak as the oracles of God. Otherwise, you can be contentious rather than peaceable [Rom 12:18] and do more harm than good. A contentious man will kindle strife [Prov 26:21]. Your desire is to make your friend better, not bitter; sharper not duller.
Regular sharpening simply realigns the edge of the blade – a knife’s edge will curl with use. A couple of swipes with the steel realigns the edge. This is how it goes for a person who stays in his Bible, stays in fellowship with the Lord, stays under good preaching of the word of God and stays in regular contact with good men who keep him sharp.
It takes much less effort to cut with a sharp blade – a dull knife is an accident waiting to happen. A sharp knife is a pleasure to use. We are more beneficial to the Lord when we are sharp. He can do better work with us when we are not dulled by the world.
It’s easier to keep a knife sharp than it is to sharpen it after it’s dull – in the kitchen regular sharpening keeps the blade sharp. And it only takes a couple of strokes on each side of the steel to bring it back to a sharp edge. When a knife gets dull, sharpening requires removing some metal. You essentially make a new edge. So, stay close to the Lord; stay sharp. Don’t let yourself get so dull that the work required to sharpen you is so painful you won’t endure it. That’s what happens when you get out in the world and get really backslidden. Honing oil is used on a whetstone when there has been damage to the blade. It takes a careful work of the Holy Spirit [typified by the oil] when you have been really dulled. And it takes a long time, lots of strokes, to get you sharp again. You don’t sharpen like a knife that has a good edge.
Conclusion: Get under good preaching, befriend some men who are strong like iron, get sharp and stay sharp. You’ll be of greater use to the Lord. And don’t be afraid to be used by the Lord to sharpen some men who have become a little dull.