Iron Sharpens Iron

Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

It really made me think and so I meditated on it for a while. Back in ancient days, a black smith would work iron ore into useful tools. He would take raw iron, and heat it up in a furnace to mold it into a spongy mass of iron. The furnace was not strong enough to melt the iron, just enough to make it pliable, even when using bellows (an instrument that forced air into the furnace to increase the heat). Once the iron was removed from the furnace, it had to be pounded into wrought iron and have the slag and air bubbles beat out of it with a hammer. Then after the piece was beaten into a shape against an anvil by the smith, it was sharpened into a useful tool as an axe or knife.


When we as men come from the ground as a lump of useless blob, we are then heated up by the fire of the Holy Spirit, and then molded and shaped by the maker or craftsman for His use. The combined heat and beatings work out the slag (sin) out of our lives, and then heated up by the fire of the Holy Spirit and beaten against the anvil (Word of God) until we are molded into the piece we are to be made (axe or knife). The anvil is never effected by the beatings and always retains it’s shape. Thus the Word of God is not effected by us at all. Same with the fire of the Holy Spirit. It is not effected by the piece being molded. The only thing being effected is the piece of iron being molded. God molds us through the fire of the Holy Spirit and the beatings of the Maker against the Word of God. Then we are made in the image of the tool we are supposed to be. An axe or letter opener. An axe is designed to cut trees down so it is blunt and heavy. A letter opener is used to make precision cuts to open up mail, so it will be small and light.

You wouldn’t use an axe to open up mail, and thus you wouldn’t use a letter opener to cut down trees. Each tool is made with a purpose in mind. They are going to look different, feel different, and weigh different. (Isaiah 64:8; Romans 9:21)

The next step is to then sharpen the piece to make it even more useful, and to help make it cut even better. They are sharpened together, or by a whetstone. Small pieces heat up and are blasted across the room and removed, and then chipped away to give the tool a nice sharp edge. So are we to be sharpened by one another, to help us be even more useful for the master. How much easier would it be for a sharp axe to cut a tree down. Much easier than a dull one. It takes less work when the tool is sharp. We need each other to sharpen our own usefulness, and help us sharpen our gifts to help us become the best tools for the Masters work. It’s painful at times, and we feel like we’ve been made into sparks, and pieces of us ignite, and thrown across the room. It hurts to be shapen, but it’s profitable in the end. To help each other, and when we each do according to the gifts we are given, we work together in harmony with other tools to achieve a common goal.

But…axes and knives that became dull, unable to be sharpened again, or unable to be shaped were cast back into the fire and recast, to be combined with other pieces that became useless. So are we as tools of God, when we become useless are cast into the fires to be consumed. (Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43)

Thus, as iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

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