Iron Sharpens Iron –
As iron sharpens iron, so
one man sharpens another.
This very short proverb, written by Solomon, has many applications. I believe it has physical, mental and spiritual relevance. We need the presence of others to reach our full potential.
Physical: Athletes need to be challenged by other athletes to hone their skills. They can work out and practice on their own, but real growth comes from practice with other athletes.
Mental: Our minds are similar to our bodies. We need to spend time in individual observation and study, but our minds and our thoughts will remain somewhat dull and unfocused until we have some intellectual interaction with others. Only then will we be able to truly sharpen our thoughts and our minds. I’m not referring to mindless discussion about the weather or last night’s ball game. I’m referring to stimulating discussion of ideas and concepts.
Spiritual: We are all on a spiritual journey to wherever we are going to spend eternity. Compared to eternity, the life we are living is very temporary. Therefore, spiritual growth and understanding is far more important than physical and mental growth. One hundred years from now, your physical fitness and intellectual capacity won’t have any significance because this life, for you, will be over. The only thing that will matter is where your spiritual journey ended.
Spiritual growth involves personal time in prayer and in the study of God’s Word. Just like the athlete and the scholar, we need to have some personal desire and ambition. We need to be self-motivated before any real growth can take place in our spiritual life. We cannot afford to simply believe what someone else tells us the Bible says. That is the lazy man’s approach and it will probably take us down the wrong road.
Spiritual growth also requires that we meet with others who are on the same spiritual journey. We need them and they need us. Through sharing and discussion, we are able to put an edge on our spiritual lives. I am not referring to going to a church building where everyone sits in rows and stares at the back of someone else’s head while someone up front delivers a prepared lecture. That is similar to a group of athletes sitting in the bleachers while their coach lectures to them. They may gain some insight and knowledge, but they will never be able to sharpen their skills simply by listening to the coach.
I am referring to a one-on-one or small group study in which everyone participates. Christians have been meeting in small groups ever since Jesus established his church – for good reason. That is where genuine spiritual growth takes place. That is where the “iron sharpens iron” principle works. In a small group setting, everyone matters. In a small group setting, everyone receives the special attention that he or she might be needing. In a small group setting, everyone is accountable to and responsible for one another. In a small group setting, everyone becomes like a close-knit family – brothers and sisters in Christ.
A word of caution. Don’t allow your small group get-together to spend much time discussing trivial, non-spiritual matters – and don’t let it turn into a neighborhood gossip session. God will bless your small group meetings, but only if you stay focused on Him and on spiritual matters.
Pray together. Pray for one another. Open God’s word together. Discuss what God is saying to you and to the group. Discuss how you can apply God’s word to your everyday lives. Encourage others to be all that God wants them to be and to have all that God wants them to have. Become involved in one another’s lives.
Don’t just GO to church; BE the church