Genuine honesty among friends can be difficult, yet, it is what we most need. We fear putting our relationship at risk, upsetting our friend, adding to the problem, or being seen as judgmental. Too often we take the easy way out because it is easier to just not “go there.” Which in the long run will only make the situation worse and the friendship more distant.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” What does this look like played out among friends? And what is our role in speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to the people around us?
There is a mutual benefit in the rubbing of two iron blades together. As the knives are sharpened, they become more efficient in their task to slice and to cut. A knife that has been sharpened will also shine more brightly since all the dullness has been removed from its surface. A dull blade still works - but much less effectively.
We were created for relationship with Christ and with other Christ-followers. Gill’s Exposition of the Bible says it this way, “Christians sharpen each other’s graces, or stir up each other to the exercise of them, and the gifts which are bestowed on them, and to love and to good works.”
I am an encourager by nature. When someone is hurting I want to fix it or at least help them to dry their tears and feel better about the situation and about themselves. I will make every effort to make someone I love feel better. We all need encouragers in our life, but we also need those who know us well enough to speak hard truths into our lives.
There are times when I should have spoken up with a different thought than that of the friend group gathered together. Times when I needed to say hard things with love and hope that a friend could receive them. Times, most especially, when I needed to seek God earnestly in prayer, to know if and what to say or if I should just remain silent.
Too often fear kept me silent (see reasons in paragraph 1). And I guess you could say a lack of courage. I know I use this verse a lot in my writing, but I find it to be a total game changer. God did not give me a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7). The opposite of fear and timidity is courage and boldness which we need to use to speak the truth in love.
Precious Father – Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. (Hebrews 10:24-25). May we seek your will to know when to speak the truth in love and may we be iron that sharpens iron to the people around us. Amen.