Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
When hearing this proverb what may be envisioned are two swords clashing with sparks flying. But the author likely was imagining the local farmer sharpening his tools. It didn't cause sparks as that would heat the metal to much but there would be friction as the sharpening wheel turns and the tool is methodically and purposefully held against the sharpening wheel.
Why the need to be sharpened? The tool has become dull, the edge is uneven or worse damaged. This hinders the tool's ability to do its job well. So the sharpening is favorable and for the benefit of the tool. It is a slow caring process meant to improve the tool to be its best. The final result is a tool ready for service and to fulfill its purpose.
So how does this pertain to you and I as believers, as members of the Body of Christ, as disciples of Christ? When we engage with one another, get close to one another, joining arms in service with one another, it is inevitable that we will have opportunity and circumstances that will cause friction between one another. Sound uncomfortable? of course. Is this a bad thing? Not at all. It is an needed thing? Yes it is. But is it for the better? You bet ya. For end result is a stronger character, a spiritual maturing, an improved servant and a more perfected tool for the Lord.
The sad thing I find is that many are afraid of experiencing sharpening. It's actually seen as a negative, something to avoid, even an offense. The love of the friend is somehow forgotten and an adverse response follows. The result? No strengthening of character, no growth in maturity and the servant goes no further in his service for the Lord. There may occur a ending of the friendship. Maybe even a resentment and turning from the faith. I believe you can not strengthen, mature or better what isn't there in the first place. Just like the tool being flawed beyond repair or sharpening because the metal wasn't well made in the first place. So it is that the person who's life does not rest on the Lord, or his truth, or his spirit, will not respond well to the sharpening.
I have come to appreciate those who have been instruments of the Lord to sharpen me. Those dear friends that have shown me grace like an ocean breeze but have also played the sharpening wheel in my life to produce a better me. Because I know their love an commitment to the Lord and to me I assured they intend good and not evil and know they are God's instrument. May we receive the sharpening wheel of the Lord as easily and openly as we receive his generous blessings and kind touch. May we see its benefits and respond with anticipation of being better than we were and ready for service.