Iron Sharpens Iron

“You’re good for me,” my friend commented. “And I’m glad God gave you to me for a friend, because you make me think and want to be better.” This was the conclusion of a discussion in which we both obviously had different opinions and convictions, and yet greatly esteemed one another. I smiled because I had just been thinking the same thing about my friendship with her.

It’s easy as humans to put a high priority on comfort. And a part of that is congregating with people who think like us, making friends with those who have similar views and outlooks on life.   We even tend to pick friends of the same race,  and political affiliation. Assuredly one of the benchmarks of genuine friendship is the comfort level we feel in someone’s presence. It’s not wrong to seek such camaraderie.  But if that is our primary criteria in  our pursuit of friendships, then we run the risk of settling. We may miss the opportunity to grow and be challenged. Sometimes comfort breeds complacency.

In Proverbs we are told that a friend sharpens a friend as iron sharpens iron. I have often felt that sharpening pull from a friend. It’s not comfortable. Sometimes it hurts. But oh how essential that hurt is. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” according to Solomon. In other words, the pain we may feel when we are confronted by a friend is actually a sign of that friend’s faithfulness to the relationship. Friends who confront, who discuss and disagree, provide an inestimable opportunity for growth in one another.  I am such an avoider of all things confrontational! I want everyone to get along, to agree, to be happy, to enjoy each other.

However, that desire can lead to superficial relationships, not true friendships. God design is for “iron sharpening iron” friendships  that will expose my own blind spots and prejudices. I am so grateful to Him for the authentic friends He has brought into my life, who love me too much to let me continue on a path of ignorance. And I am also thankful that He is using me in their lives, to sharpen them, and tune them more finely into His voice.

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