|Graphic from Baptist Bible Hour|
S [Scripture]= "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend." (Proverbs 27:17)
O [Observation]= This verse is part of a section of Proverbs titled by Scofield "Warnings and Instructions". This section includes chapters 25 through 29 of Proverbs -- and these are "proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah, copied out" (Proverbs 25:1). It's interesting to note what Proverbs these men apparently selected to copy out.
The verse states that iron sharpens iron. I recall my days of working in a restaurant kitchen and observing the chef as he sharpened knives with a steel. It was a somewhat noisy, abrasive process. Just as iron sharpens iron, so a man is to sharpen the countenance of his friends. I think of how the steel strikes the knife -- there has to be very close contact between the two. Abrasion is very much part of the sharpening -- sometimes sparks will even fly. Yet it must be done or the knife will lose its edge -- and thus, its usefulness.
A [Application]= Am I sharpening the countenance of my friends? I think if I'm honest with myself, I'll have to admit that there are some friends I've refrained from attempting to sharpen because they wouldn't take it well. I've had other friends disagree with what I was sharing -- and so that sharpening was ineffective because the "knife" decided it was okay the way it was. I've also found that in teaching ladies (many of whom are also my personal friends), there've been times when I've brought up subjects that they'd rather not deal with. Yet these are areas of life and choices that each of us must face. I need to prayerfully keep on with trying to help sharpen my friends, and leave their response and the outcomes with God.
And I also need to be willing for my friends to sharpen me. I've found that even the abrasive, difficult people in my life can teach me much as I consider how the the Lord would have me to interact with them. As He points out sin and wrong attitudes in my dealings with others, I am sharpened spiritually and become more useful for His service.
P [Prayer]= "Lord, I thank You for Your Word -- and today, I thank You in particular for the practicality of the book of Proverbs. I thank You for the effective word picture and object lesson of iron sharpening iron.
I pray that You will help me as I seek to sharpen my friends spiritually. Some of them may be resistant to change or don't think they need to change, so I ask for You to do the necessary work in their hearts.
And I pray, too, that You will help me to be always willing to be sharpened by others. Thank You for showing me how this process works, and for the abrasive people You are using to show me my own need to grow and change. I praise You that You care about the details of our lives, and I thank You for all You will do in this area. In Jesus' name, Amen."
So that was my study for last Friday. A challenging one! I hope it has encouraged someone today!