There is a fish market near where I live. Every once in a while we will take the kids down to the port to watch the fishermen bring in their catch and deliver it to the market. It is then given to a group of butchers who prepare the fish for restaurants and markets. One thing I noticed was that the butcher spends almost as much time sharpening his knife as he does slicing fish. A dull blade is useless. Keeping the blade sharp is essential.
Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
This short verse has to be one of the most popular of all the proverbs and is key in many men’s ministries in churches all over the world. Just as iron sharpens, iron so does a man sharpen another. God has instilled in humans the ability to keep each other sharp. That happens in all sorts of ways, but generally, it takes close contact and frequent occurrences. Just like we don’t want our knives to be dull, we don’t want our lives to be either.
Keeping the Blade Sharp
Iron is one of the most common metals found in the world. It is a rough and impure metal that is used in all types of tools. The most common would be an ax. If you allow your ax to get dull it doesn’t matter how hard you swing, that tree isn’t coming down. You need to keep it sharp by grinding the ax against a sharpener. For Iron the only thing that sharpens it is iron. The process as a whole is not pleasant. First off it is loud, but it takes effort grinding the rough metal against each other. Keeping the blade sharp takes hard work.
Human beings are sharpened the same way, by other humans. It is usually not a pleasant process either and can prove to be more difficult. Iron can’t resist or run from the sharpening but humans can. So we have to decide to allow ourselves to be sharpened by being in contact with people who will make us sharp. A dull human being is boring and a drag on the community. A resistant human is a danger because they often attack when sharpening takes place. Allowing yourself to rub against others is like keeping the blade sharp.