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The Sharpener

by SARAH DEAL COMMUNITY Biblical conflict resolution Team unity & dynamics
The Sharpener
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17

My husband is a knife sharpener. When he spots someone with a pocketknife you can rest assured, he will ask them about it. Mid-conversation, he will offer to take it home and sharpen it. Over the next few days, he will work it meticulously through two crude looking bars of course metal, resulting in a super sharp blade. 

The sound is horrendous.

Like nails on a chalkboard.

But like a good wife, I do my best to ignore it. I'm thankful for the blessing he is to others, but at knife-sharpening hour you can typically find me running for cover out of earshot of the grating hullabaloo.

Then one day it hit me. Iron sharpening iron. I'd quoted the verse many times.

It represents the way that community, specifically a community of people who know Christ, who serve and love and work together, should encourage and sharpen each other in the Lord.

But what I hadn't realized before was that typically, when iron sharpens iron, the process is less than comfortable. You see, when iron sharpens iron, it sometimes means saying hard things.

Gulp. I'm more of a hugger. 

During our ministry overseas, we saw a real need for encouragers. There’s no shortage of people feeling isolated, misunderstood, and discouraged as they adapt to a new language and culture in their host country. Thus, I made it my goal to be there for them. To encourage, to give chocolate, to relate.

As I see my husband faithfully sharpening his knives, I'm reminded and challenged that God has called us all to be sharpeners, to be iron that sharpens iron.

Sometimes that means gently pointing out sin we see in each other’s lives.

Sometimes it means having a hard conversation to preserve a relationship that has been filled with tension.

Sometimes it means risking what is comfortable for the sake of what is best.

Iron sharpening iron, willing to allow those rough edges to be shaved away to reveal a more useful instrument.

Women that sharpen those around us, faithfully challenging one another to be more like our Master. 

Closing Prayer
Father, thank you for creating us in your image, and for fellowship with Yourself! Remind us of the fact that relationships matter, and that living in community is a part of glorifying You. In all our interactions, help us to not only encourage, but to be willing to challenge and spur each other on to holiness and greater dependence on You. When we feel our own rough edges being chiseled away (or hear someone else’s being grinded off!) and it causes us discomfort, help us to remember that it’s worth the pain to become a more useful vessel in your hand! To You be all the glory in our lives, Amen.
Article: The “One Another” Passages by A simple, concise resource listing the “one another” commands in the New Testament that instruct us on how to live in community.
Product: Knife Sharpener: Sharpmaker by Spyderco (Recommended by my husband) “Because a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife!” Drop us an email if you need someone to sharpen your knife for you or if you or your husband wants lessons on how to sharpen!!
Question for Reflection

Recall a recent time you felt yourself being sharpened by a coworker or friend. How did this experience help you become a more effective servant of the Lord?

Sarah Deal
November 22, 2022

A few nights ago, while reading a devotional before bed with my fourteen-year-old, he somewhat randomly said: “Hey mom, did you know it was a sin to keep a record of wrongs?” We talked about that for a few minutes, all the while my heart wrestling with some unforgiveness I had been having against a coworker. We talked about the difference between regaining trust and forgiving vs. forgetting and how sometimes relationships take time to mend and “as much as lies within you, live at peace with all men.” But in my heart, I knew that God was using my son to sharpen and convict me of keeping a record of wrong with my coworker. It was so humbling, and I knew I needed to agree with the Lord (and confess it to my son- who had overhead some of my heart on the issue) about my heart of unforgiveness and bitterness I was harboring against my sister in Christ.
I’m so thankful, painful as it was, that God used my son to sharpen me that night! Even though he may not have been directing the comment at me, God knows I needed to hear it and be sharpened so that I could be ready to be a better friend and teammate and reflect God’s heart of unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness to those around me!