Iron Sharpens Iron
What is a Christian friendship and why do we need it? If “iron sharpens iron”, then the proverb indicates that it takes another fellow Christian to be the best of ourselves. [i] How, then, do we find and nurture these relationships in a world where, often, the closest we get to someone is a text, Instagram message or fist bump at the door of the church?
I Thessalonians 2:8 relates how the early church “cared for you…because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (NIV) This indicates that there were true caring relationships among the fellowship. Intimate with the intricacies of their lives. It wasn’t a simple “Hi, how are you?” entering the church on Sunday morning. They knew each other. They knew their hardships and their trials. Iron against iron. How much closer can two people be than the sliding of steel against steel?
In an article sharing data from Growing Together-a Barna report, says that 56% of Christians feel their spiritual life is entirely private. Yet, four out of five agree that friends should challenge each other to grow in healthy ways. Boomers are the most likely to believe their spiritual life should be private (63%), while Gen Z are the least likely to believe their spiritual life is private (46%).[ii]
A private spiritual life goes completely against Jesus’ exhortation to “make disciples”.[iii] This results in many “blades” being dull from lack of use. There is no growth when our faith is silent.
God favors friendships. David and Jonathon, Naomi and Ruth, Paul and Barnabas, and Jesus with His disciples. He knew we needed each other when He created us. The purpose of friendships in the faith are to exhort, encourage, pray, admonish and, share God’s Word together. Those are the acts of sharpening. Galatians 6:2 tells us to carry each other’s burdens.[iv] James 2:8 exhorts us to love one another.[v] Matthew 18:20 reminds us that “where two or more are gathered, there I am with them.”[vi]
Many say, “I have 1,500 friends on my Facebook page”. Others may boast the number of Instagram followers. Yet, if faced with the question of the number of true Christian friendships, the results will be minimal for most. The “hello and goodbye” at the door of the church is not iron against iron. No one is sharpened by the nod and fist bump greeting. No one is ever truly admonished with the sad face emoji, nor heralded with a happy face. Christianity demands intimacy and intimacy is rare, even within families.
Encourage one another. As steel scrapes steel the rust is diminished and the shine is revealed. Working in tandem to admonish the rust and draw closer spiritually. Sliding into one another’s life challenges and finding answers together with the Word and prayer. The battle for The Kingdom is in peril if too few swords are sharp and ready.
The battle is won together.
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[i] Proverbs 27:17 [ii] https://www.barna.com/research/discipleship-friendship/ [iii] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2028%3A16-20&version=NIV [iv] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%206%3A2&version=NIV [v] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=james+2%3A8&version=NIV [vi] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew+18%3A20&version=NIV