Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Fellowship (among believers) (10/11/07)
TITLE: Christian Fellowship Meets the Sharpening Stone
By Cheryl Harrison
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“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success.” (Ecc. 10:10)
I have heard it said that dull knives are far more dangerous than sharp knives. Some people may disagree with this statement, but not me. A dull knife is often unable to accomplish its purpose, but at the same time it can cause severe injury. It requires extra pressure for cutting—it slides when you want it to cut and cuts when the sliding stops—usually when it comes into contact with skin. An effective knife needs a sharp blade. There are many ways to sharpen knives, but I prefer oil and stone.
There is a scripture that speaks of how people sharpen one another … “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
I think this scripture reflects the Christian’s need for the Church. We worship together, study the Bible together, pray together, and encourage one another. This holy friction serves to sharpen our testimonies and provides spiritual guidance as we learn to walk with the Lord.
When we worship together the revelation of God’s identity becomes clear, when we study the Bible together the truth of God’s promises become real, and when we pray together the power of God manifests itself in our faith. All this sounds good, but hold on … we have one more sharpening tool to consider … we must encourage one another. Ah yes, encouragement … where the blade of Christian fellowship meets the sharpening stone.
Philippians 2:1-4 says, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Encouraging words function like oil on a sharpening stone. When a knife is sharpened the oil surrounds the metal shavings, floats them away from the edge, and allows the knife to be sharpened effectively. When we are being sharpened, the oil of encouragement surrounds shavings such as fear, uncertainty and worry, which float away from our edge. Thus, we are sharpened effectively.
So we must ask ourselves a hard question. If we placed the words we speak on a scale … what would weigh the most … would it be words of encouragement … or would words of complaint and negativity tip the scale. Please keep in mind that words of encouragement serve to sharpen edges, but words of complaint and negativity tend to ravage edges. It is for this reason that encouragement becomes an essential sharpening tool. Think about it … how can the Lord slice into a world of lost people if Christians are not sharpened and ready to be used?
I pray each of us will be sharpened through worship, the study of God’s Word, prayer, and encouragement. I pray we will serve as sharp edges in the hand of our Lord as He seeks to reach the lost people around us.
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