Cutting something takes a sharp edge. If you are a butcher, chef or even a carpenter you know this principle. The sharper the edge, the quicker and more precise the cut. It actually takes more effort to cut through something with a dull edge. Those who are on the top of their game keep their tools sharp in order to be effective and as Christians shouldn’t we do the same?
We are told in Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
So am I talking about the word of God needing to be sharp? The answer is NO because we see in the verse that the word is already sharper than anything comparable. In other words, we cannot make the word of God sharper with any efforts we would take on its behalf.
Instead, let’s refer to the verse we find in Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Usually the little “th” on the end of the words we read in the King James version of the Bible implies the idea of to be continually doing. Therefore, we could rephrase the verse like this; Iron continually sharpens iron; so a man continually sharpens the countenance of his friend.
What this verse is conveying to us is that we are to be regularly or continuously sharpening one another. However, this thought prompts other questions doesn’t it, like how are we to sharpen one another, with what and for what purpose? Well, the answers to these questions are also found within the scripture verse itself, as well as within the very title of the book we find it in.
First, the use of the word iron is not by happenstance or coincidence. No, the writer of the verse (who we know was influenced by God (because 2-Timothy 3:16 tells us “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”) to use the word iron. It was chosen perhaps because iron is tough and we as human beings can relate due to our tough or hard hearts.
However, I believe that iron is the chosen word because it is symbolic of weapons or tools. And it’s because of this symbolic meaning that we can easily conclude that what we are to use to sharpen one another is the word of God which was symbolically associated in Hebrews to a weapon (two-edged sword).
Next, we notice the word countenance in the Proverbs quote and understand that in the Hebrew language this word connotes not only the direct translation of countenance or face but also refers to both before and behind. In other words we might say one’s past and future, as well as their present state.
You see one’s face often gives clues as to if they are concentrating on something ahead (future) of them or reflecting (past) on some previous event. And by sharing the word of God with each other it helps us frame both the past and the future in the correct context. Without a proper context, both the future and the past can hinder us. It can either immobilize us with fear or weigh us down with regret.
Since its God’s desire that we live in the present, it is important for us to understand that God can reshape how we see the past and that He’s also got the future in His control. Therefore, we should share the word of God with each other as an encouragement to help us keep the proper perspective and in so doing we exercise wisdom.
I mentioned previously the scripture text we are utilizing out of the book of Proverbs indicates by the very title of the book that to share the word of God with each other is indeed a move of wisdom, since the word Proverbs refers to the wisdom shared by its author, who was more than likely King Solomon and whom the Bible referred to as the wisest man to ever live.
Hence, we can put it all together and see that if we want to be efficient and effective we need to share the word of God with others and let them share the word with us. We have to let the word of God rub up against us right where we are currently at and let it shape us and mold us. Are we always going to like it? Of course the answer is NO, however, only the wise will see its benefit and be open to allowing it to work in us things that we need and work out of us things we should let go of.
It is my hope that you will sharpen the sword today. What or better yet who is the sword in this case? It’s YOU of course, because properly equipped with the word of God; the creator of all can use you as the tool He needs to combat the enemy in this present world. When you are razor sharp, you become a powerful weapon against the dark forces, which God utilizes to bring victory to the captives!
This very idea is exemplified in the story of Gideon who was used by God to help free the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites. We read the following from Judges 7:18-22:
“When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. So Gideon, and the hundred men that were with him, came unto the outside of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch; and they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers that were in their hands. And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. And they stood every man in his place round about the camp; and all the host ran, and cried, and fled. And the three hundred blew the trumpets, and the Lord set every man's sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host: and the host fled to Bethshittah in Zererath, and to the border of Abelmeholah, unto Tabbath.”
This is a very strange set of instructions God had provided to Gideon but he and his men did as God told them and the result was victory without any physical fighting on the part of the Israelites. What we conclude is that when God’s word is followed, we become the “Sword of the Lord” to be used at His disposal. And also on the other hand when people don’t know the word of God they end up tearing each other down even to the point of self-destruction. Therefore to be effective we need to use our words wisely and the best way to keep them sharp is by lining them up to God’s word!