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Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

We’ve all gone to the workplace or been in a situation and had our job performance evaluated.  Sometimes it turns out great- with a raise in pay, or sometimes not so great- being let go.  Often a report is written up. It’s about how you can improve, and goals for the next year or next evaluation or next job!  It’s a challenge to press on and embrace the process year after year.  So, it is with iron.  It dulls with constant use. It needs to be repeatedly sharpened to be continually productive.

Solomon illustrates his point using a common occurrence people would’ve been familiar with in his day.  The sharpening of a tool took persistent intense striking by another tool.  No electric whetstones or sharpening devices were available.  Not only would a sword or knife have to be sharpened once but many times if it was to be useful.  Giving a tool the desired sharpness took time, involving a process, just like persistent, long term relationships can result in a personal and spiritual growth process for its members.  Perhaps the reason Solomon writes, “iron sharpening iron,” is because one man is like another man and it makes mutual sharpening possible and desirable.  In Solomon’s day, a soldier might sharpen the face of his sword against a sharpening iron to make it ready for battle, so a faithful friend can equip his friend for success by constructive criticism.  A faithful friend, loyal over time to offer advice, does not give up or leave the first time his friend does not heed his advice.

If we do not have any such friends of “iron” in our lives, we should be looking for them.   Think of who might be on the Board of Directors for your spiritual life.  Imagine what they would be saying to you to sharpen your walk. Balance, focus, steps toward life goals, financial and moral accountability in your life can benefit from “iron sharpening iron” relationships. A proverb tells us what usually happens, and Solomon’s suggesting we become our best through the interaction in personal relationships.  Rededicate yourself to the Lord today and his process of sharpening you through your relationships.   We should also ask the Lord to make us the kind of “iron” who can persist in love in our relationships and offer helpful criticism towards others personal and spiritual growth.


A man of many companions may come to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
– Proverbs 18:24

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By Donna Burns  

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