Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
I’ve heard this verse carelessly thrown around. I hear men say it to each other in passing. I know we get the concept. I just think we have missed the gravity of it. Or more specifically, the power that this verse holds.
It’s easy to say it to a guy at church on BBQ night. There’s a nod, a fist bump and BOOM – iron has sharpened iron. Rather, a dull knife has fist bumped another dull knife. There is no substance there, no depth. No CHALLENGE.
Is this really what the verse is supposed to mean? Is this really what God was trying to tell us about our relationships? Specifically the relationships between men? The answer is an overwhelming NO.
In fact, the 6th verse of that same chapter says: The wounds of a friend are trustworthy.
I have different categories of friends in my life. I have a few guys I have known for greater than two decades that I still talk to constantly. I have a close group of men from my church – a fellowship of men if you will. I have men I am beginning to mentor. They are friends, but we are in the beginning stages of those relationships. Finally, there are acquaintances and those on the periphery.
The guys I have known the longest aren’t where I am spiritually. In fact, we don’t really discuss those things at all. But let me tell you what they do bring to my life: Unwavering loyalty and brutal truth. They have been with me since before I knew who I was. They befriended me and stood by me when I didn’t deserve it. They will not hesitate to call me out and tell me that what I’m doing is wrong…or that I’m being a jack wagon…or anything else they see. These men love me. They love me enough to tell me when I’m screwing up. They have earned the right to tell me these things because of their loyalty to me through my most shameful moments.
You know what else? I listen to them. I value their friendship above all other men.
This is where the men in churches are lacking. Do we, as God fearing men, hold each other accountable? Do we use truth for what it is – straightforward assessments of reality to use for growth and correction? Is this enough?
I know men and I’m saying NO, it’s not enough. Remember what I said about my friends that I value above all others? I receive their truth because they showed me loyalty when I didn’t deserve it.
The church defines it a different way. The church calls it grace. This is the basis for where men need to start. We have to exhibit loyalty before the reception of accountability. We are called to share our sins- to hold each other accountable. THIS is how iron sharpens iron.
Someone shares, the others receive without judgement, they all hold each other accountable. When someone gives into their sin, they are corrected with sharp truth. When they look up from their failure and shame, they will be surrounded by a fellowship of loyal, truthful men. A room full of men ready to set them back on the path.
You see, we ALL suffer. We ALL struggle. There’s no reason to do it alone. Stop going through the motions. Stop struggling in silence. It’s time to sharpen your blade.
You know what I call a man with a sharp blade?