As Iron Sharpens Iron: Does Friendship Really Matter?
There have been topical sermons, entire conferences, huge demonstrations with two knives being swished together a-la hibachi chef all on the subject of Iron Sharpens Iron. But as we all know, all the reinforcement in the world can make way for just a little seedling of doubt when you hear something that contradicts your beliefs. As I talked about before, doubt isn’t really a negative emotion. If utilized properly, it brings us deeper into our understanding of scripture. So ride with me, and examine the bromantic scripture that is the iron sharpening iron.
“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Some versions say “As iron sharpens iron” but all in all same deal all across the board. What is countenance? Countenance pretty much means you as a person. Your character or being. Every aspect of who you are and want to be. It’s a deep word to describe everything about you all at once.
I was reading a friends facebook status where he quoted this verse and I want to make clear that I’ve always loved this verse. It is powerful and defines the ideals of biblical manhood to the extremes! However, one person wrote under it, “But iron doesn’t sharpen iron, rock does.”
I was almost ticked off. Turns out he was right. All the videos of people sharpening iron were with hard rocks or something of that nature. Nothing about iron. I started to feel what millennials feel when someone tells them the truth but it hurts their feelings. So instead of lashing out and commenting about how they are terrible people and God is right because I said so and they are heathens, I chose to do my research.
Guess what iron means in hebrew?
Deep, right? Well, the hebrew wasn’t helping and my back was to the wall. The meaning of this scripture was becoming something I never thought it was. Could it be that scripture had an error? That I finally found a spot where the bible was wrong?
I prayed, and started to think about the scripture and what came to mind was how God sees things differently than we do. Maybe this scripture wasn’t intended to be an uplifting depiction of bromance but a warning. I mean look at the two verses it is sandwiched in between!
A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand.
INSERT BROMANCE HERE
The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit,
and whoever protects their master will be honored.
It just doesn’t make sense. Why would the writer hop from a lesson to a son about women, to an uplifting bromantic message about friendship (instead of a convicting lesson to his son about friends) to a convicting lesson about honoring your leaders? Thats just not cohesive.
So What Does “Iron Sharpens Iron” Mean?
Have you ever taken the S.A.Ts where there are comparative questions? Maybe this isn’t a good analogy but let me see if it fits. Iron is to sharpening itself as you are to sharpening your friends countenance. As in, it doesn’t work.
The dude that wrote on my friends facebook status kind of gave me the answer I’m looking for. If I can’t sharpen my friends countenance then who can? The only thing that sharpens iron is a rock.
“The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Psalm 18:2
What Does This Not Mean?
This doesn’t mean that we don’t need friends. If you read my other posts you know how important friendship and the right community is to me. However, those friendships can’t be sharpened without God at the center. They become dull and Jesus is what is detrimental to fixing any and all struggles you have. My bros and I understand this clearly and even though there may be little stints, theres always a clear center to everything we do. There is always a clear foundation which we use to sharpen the iron of friendship; the iron of character; the iron of truth.
What more can we do but trust in Jesus for that? How can iron sharpening iron have been misinterpreted for so long? Is it even worth the correction? Do you even think it has been misinterpreted? Let me know!