Sharpening Iron

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Proverbs 27:17

As I was reading in Proverbs this morning, this verse struck me.  I have read this verse over and over again over the years and I have always looked at it from the same angle: we are supposed to be an encouragement and a help to our friends.  We are supposed to “sharpen” them.  That is, I believe the correct interpretation of this Proverb.  But, as is often the case with the Bible, it has another meaning also.  It struck me today that this verse not only tells us how be a friend, but also tells us how to choose a friend.

We need to help and encourage our friends, but we also need to find friends who will help and encourage us.  “Iron sharpeneth iron…”  I’m not saying that we should only count as our “friends” those that are the best Christians.  Jesus Himself was described as “a friend of sinners.”  We should be trying to help and encourage everyone we meet, and thus we should be a friend to anyone who needs that help and encouragement.  But when it comes down to the smaller list of people who we allow to influence us, we should make sure that they will influence us for good.  We need to make sure they will influence us to do right and to draw closer to the Lord.  Influence is a powerful thing and we should be looking for other “iron” to sharpen our “iron.”  We don’t want things and people “dulling” us.

The book of Proverbs also tells us that a “companion of fools shall be destroyed.”  What kind of influences do we have in our lives?  Those that would help us and “sharpen us,” or those that would lead us to destruction?  Also, what kind of influence are we – are we sharpening others or are we leading them to destruction?

6 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks Ben. I have often found that the relationships which sharpen me most are those relationships which most challenged me. The people God has “called me into friendship with” are not always the people I would have chosen. But they produced the most fruit in my life.


    • He does bring some “interesting” people into our lives, doesn’t He? 🙂 It’s important for me to remember that nothing He does is by accident. Every person He brings into my life, He brings for a reason. Sometimes they need me to help them, sometimes I need them to help me, and sometimes we need to help each other.


  2. Thanks for sharing, Ben

    “What kind of influences do we have in our lives? ”
    What Pastor J said!!

    If I had the option of choosing those who would contribute to my life, I am sure I would not have chosen the ones who have helped me grow… He knows what I need, even when I have not the foggiest.

    Blessings much,


  3. This post made me think and then pray, as I read Pastor J and Ann. I might want the kind of friends that echo my own thoughts, but I will benefit from those who challenge me from time to time. 🙂 God bless you and thanks Ben!


    • It takes all kinds. 🙂 There are those that encourage us to draw closer to the Lord and there are those that drive us to the Lord for help. We probably need some of both in our lives!


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