Psalm 26:7--That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Iron on Iron

Proverbs 27:17--Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

As I've discussed before, imagery is a powerful tool in communication, and the above simile from Proverbs is an excellent example. Here, Solomon uses the image of iron grinding against iron to express how our friendships affect us. This device has several effects. Firstly, the simile gives an example that is more easily understood. Secondly, since the abstract idea is now related to a common concept, it is more memorable. Thirdly, the image indirectly states aspects about the idea; this way the author does not have to take time and/or space to explain them, and the audience has the satisfaction of figuring them out on its own, which also makes the idea more memorable.

So why would we need to know about our friendships? Well, at our bases, we are all social creatures, and friendships are extremely important. God created man as a social being: "And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him" (Genesis 2:18). Remember that God called His creation "very good" (Genesis 1:31), yet in the midst of all these good things, one thing stood out that was not good: man was alone. This wasn't just one of Adam's desires. He didn't even know He was lonely because He had never experienced fellowship with another human being before. But God knew that it wasn't good for Him to be alone; God knew that man needed social interaction. He created us that way. Relationships are a need, not a want.

However, we have to be careful in our friendships. They can help us or harm us, as we see in the text verse. When you have two like elements, such as iron and iron, together, they sharpen and support each other (also see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). This is parallel to two Christians edifying each other in the Lord, which is a fundamental responsibility of any Christian relationship. It must be noted, though, that this is a hard process. Sharpening metal by rubbing metal against it is not an easy job. It will take a lot of work, strength, and diligence. It's never fun when we have to confront a friend about a sin in his or her life, but it is necessary. And if you truly love that person, you will do what's best for them by meekly and lovingly admonishing him or her and helping them overcome that sin. Likewise, two nonbelievers will increasingly make each other sharper in wickedness.

It is also true that when you put dissimilar elements together it causes harm. Iron and water don't do much for each other. A failure to improve is natural; there's no work involved. And many times, deterioration comes along with a simple failure to improve. Water causes iron to rust, and so fellowship with an unbeliever will cause a Christian to become corrupt (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). We must have redemptive relationships with the lost in order to draw them to Christ, but we should not have close relationships with them that will make us partakers of their sin.

In conclusion, it is obvious that we need to be extremely careful in our choice of friends. We must use the discernment of God's Holy Spirit and God's Word to make the right choices. Good and godly friendships are crucial to living a life pleasing to God because He created us to have friendships and because the influence of our friends plays a huge part in determining who we are. Also, we need to be iron that sharpens. Don't just let others sharpen you. Return the favor and build them up as well. You will even find that this causes self-edification and is another step in your own spiritual growth.

Sadly, though, if you are lost, you can't be sharpened toward having a better life. Your sin will only cause you to rust more and more as time goes on, and your unsaved friends will sharpen you toward more and more sin. Eventually, this corruption will place you in burning Hell forever. Come to the One Who can redeem, restore, and fix you today. Let Him heal you and cleanse you of your sin and set you on a path of growth in Him that is far more fulfilling than any sin or earthly pleasure ever could be. Click the Salvation tab above for more details.

Thank you for reading, and have a great week! God bless you as you seek Him.

No comments:

Post a Comment