A dear friend and I enjoyed tea together this week. It’s been over a year since we have savored the pleasure of in-person conversation. It was wonderful to catch up with one another. During our conversation, I mentioned that the past year has been one of much growth for me. I stated that the process has been harsh but the end results are good. I was speaking of relationship changes amongst family, friends, the extra people interactions with foster parenting, and what God was doing in my heart.
I compared it to the oft-quoted adage, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV). Elaborating how that verse is an easy one to rattle off the tongue like a bumper sticker platitude. Yet, if we really think about the action it’s describing, iron sharpening iron is about FRICTION. When a metal rasp is used to smooth off rough edges of another piece of metal there is abrasion—a scraping or wearing down by friction. My friend immediately responded, “and sometimes sparks fly!”
Her remark has echoed in my mind the past few days. It prompted me to revisit the scriptures. This verse is so direct. What is God really saying in the original text?
As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (NKJV)
Just as iron sharpens iron, friends sharpen the minds of each other. (CEV)
A friendly discussion is as stimulating as the sparks that fly when iron strikes iron. (TLB)
After reading it in a few different versions, I went to the Hebrew text checking to see if there was more, I could discover. That yielded minimal to the obvious but sprouted a deep admiration for people who formally study the Hebrew language. The slow simmering process of reflection on this single verse did provide a lesson and inspiration for me.
A brilliant sheen or a glassy smooth finish is often the objective when someone is finishing a piece of metalwork. That result is accomplished with tools in the hands of an artisan who grinds and files down rough edges. An image that causes me to ponder about hard relational moments, the kinds when I sense friction or sparks flying. Are those times God is working with a sovereign rasp to remove my rough edges?
When I feel the irritation or sparks fly, am I going to bemoan the circumstance? Or will I remember Paul’s instructions, “Do all things without complaining or arguments; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15, NASB).
When relationships clash and rub, will I cherish the opportunity before me to be polished by my Creator? “So that you may discover the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, for the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:10-11, NASB).
How about you, do you welcome or resist the rasp of God?
Father God, it is good to declare Your faithfulness. Thank You for polishing me through ALL that is permitted to touch my life. Give me a heart that endures the process of scraping away the undesirable elements. Cause me to be a bright light in this world. Father, may believers everywhere welcome Your refining touch until You call us home. Thank You for your perfect love. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, grandmother, great-grandmother, foster care parent, and trauma survivor. I enjoy sipping tea, writing devotionals, prayers, short stories, and unburdening my heart to the Lord. Check the About page if you want to read more of my story.
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Files rasps tools image by Thanasis Papazacharias from Pixabay.com
Quotation added by Manette Kay.
Sparks image by Emilian Robert Vicol from Pixabay.com