Iron Sharpens Iron - Sparks that are Good

Photo credited to Charlie Kellog https://www.flickr.com/photos/papa_charliegeorge/

Photo credited to Charlie Kellog https://www.flickr.com/photos/papa_charliegeorge/

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.




Getting Serious about Discipleship

Discipleship. . . it's spoken about regularly from pulpits everywhere but how many churches actually are discipling as Jesus did?  I recall when I first began my pastorate at Calvary Chapel Perris Valley and presented the importance of discipleship in the church and especially to see it seriously developed at CCPV, one of the leaders at that time responded, "You disciple pastor when you teach on Sunday and Wednesday."  I wasn't surprised because even pastors I have spoken to consider their teaching from the pulpit as the discipleship in their church.  Bit it is a very very limited part of it.

Lets consider the approach of Jesus.  First, who did he identify as disciples but those who followed him on a daily and continuously basis. They were identified separately from the multitudes that came, listened and then went home.  Look at this words regarding what a disciple is.

"Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “ If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:25-27

"So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." Luke 14:31

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:33

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." John 15:5-8

Wow! So being a disciple is a major commitment to follow Christ. The Gospel clearly records that Christ's discipling of the twelve involved their fosaking all to walk with Him to receive personal and regular instruction from Him through word and His example. His sermon on the Mount was not discipleship but was preaching, but his time in the upper room was as he spoke to them of washing one another's feet.

So lets get serious about discipleship.  Let's follow our Lord's example to "disciple all nations."