This world has popularized an inspiring Biblical phrase that says iron sharpens iron. The true meaning must be made clear to everyone especially the real children of God.
In Christianity, there are several Biblical phrases that are so common to people; even non-believers often use them to prove a point in life. The Bible, being the manual for every Christian is endowed with life advise and special insight for both mental and spiritual growth. Have you thought about the meaning of “iron sharpens iron phrase”? Let’s figure it out now.
In the book of Proverbs, the writer said:
“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens his friend’s countenance.” (Proverbs 17:27)
As humans, we should remember that God made us social beings. Beginning from the story of creation according to Genesis —God did find it necessary for a man to have a companion.
“And the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18)
This is the beginning of friendships, relationships, marriage and society. At least two individuals can enjoy a mutual benefit from each other hence —iron sharpening iron to bring about strength and growth.
Now, I want to remind you that the phrase cuts across every good and worthy relationship we have with our fellow humans —especially the kinds that bring glory to God. I will explain this in detail in the next paragraphs.
Iron was one of the widely used materials in the ancient days. Because of its durability, several farm tools and warfare equipment were produced from iron.
In our today’s world, it hasn’t changed, iron is preferred to several other metals when talking about strength and durability.
Meaning Of Iron Sharpen Iron Scripture
The meaning of iron sharpens iron from Proverbs teaches us about the presence of a friend who gives us more confidence, strength, assurance and positive thoughts that bring about growth in the Lord.
Here, the friend who thinks about helping you in the best way to be productive in your walks in life and with God is a typical iron. In return, you also ought to help by making him feel secure, hopeful and strong.
I will say the real meaning is centered on relationships, growth and strength. And it takes at least two to make a strong bond.
“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
In other words, we can also relate it to this popular phrase “together we stand divided we fall.”
Unity brings strength. So in the life of Christians, it is imperative to live in a way that will help strengthen each other’s faith in Christ Jesus. Being a sharp iron through the help of other believers helps to grow in the Lord and overcome the crafty devices of the devil.
Why The Scriptures Made Reference To Iron Sharpening Iron?
Iron is a kind of metal that is very hard compared to steel, silver, lead, etc, So when an iron sword is properly whetted against iron, it will bring it to a better edge. Imagine a strong metal being brought to a sharp edge; It will cut into trees and accomplish its purpose with ease.
Through this one friend or believer will become the means of exciting another. It will bring growth and excitement to all individuals involved. Without whetting each iron or person —one will become dull. If a sword is not maintained, sharpened and left to become dusty, it will eventually corrode and wash away.
Illustration Of Iron In The Bible
The Scriptures make mention of iron in several passages. It formed the basic material for a lot of tools in the ancient days. For example, in 1 Chronicles 29:2 and 7, a greater quantity of iron was used to build the Temple of God. Even in the days of Moses, iron was known to be a durable metal.
In other illustrations we can see it used to refer to :
• strength (Daniel 2:33)
• slavery (yoke of iron – Deuteronomy 28:48)
• obstinacy (Isaiah 48:4)
However, with respect to the context of this content and the verse from Proverbs 17:27 we are looking at strength.
“For, look, I have made you this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land.” (Jeremiah 1:18)
Iron Sharpen Iron Examples In The Bible
When I search through my Bible, I could find a couple of typical examples of iron sharpening iron.
I told you in the early paragraphs that God made humans social beings. Friendship is one of the basic interactions that help the growth of two or more people. It is therefore important to associate with people you share the same goals and faith together. If you do not live in agreement you can’t move in the same direction as Amos 3:3 reminded us.
As a child of God, you must be selective of the kinds of friends you associate with (your inner circle). Science has also said mental energy is very contagious.
If this is the case, then surround yourself with believers who will sharpen you to develop a strong mental attitude that would bring positive results to you and those around you. Become a sharp two-edged sword through the power of Christ Jesus.
The process of sharpening friends include constructive criticism, advise, motivation, inspiration, kindness, etc,
A Biblical example of friendship that sharpened each other is what happened between David and Jonathan. Together they triumphed over King Saul’s hateful and vile attacks. You may read about their friendship to know more about how it strengthened them towards a common goal full of excitement, trust, progress and victory.
2. Relationship And Marriages
Marriage is the first institution God Himself established in the garden of Eden. It unites two individuals — a man and a woman. Indeed, it is not good for a man to be lonely. So he has to find a woman who is wise, hard-working and God-fearing.
This kind of woman could surely be an iron that can sharpen her husband. Iron, a material necessary for building strong pillars of marriage.
Just like how the Psalmist said; who can find a virtuous woman?
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.” (Proverbs 31:10 – 11)
In other translations, it says “a woman of noble character.” This is the kind of iron needed in a marriage.
The Christian ministry is made up of believers who share the same faith through our Lord Jesus Christ. In order for the individual block of the building to stay strong and fit in position, there must be the existence of love, unity, peace and understanding. The nourishment comes from the Holy Spirit and no individual block should do unworthy things to quench Him.
These are some of the elements or components that aid in sharpening the ministry to be strong in the Lord. The purpose of the ministry shouldn’t be left out to fade. So each believer must encourage each other to keep on fighting the good fight toward the prize for which Christ Jesus has called us.
The ministry is for Christ —and some of the best ways to make it strong is to pray together, be kind to each other and if possible an individual should find prayer partners. Remember, this is a relationship between believers, the Church and the head of the Church being Christ Jesus.
In the ministry, we can find believers who are blunt in faith, let’s sharpen them as the scriptures say iron sharpens iron, then together we can accomplish the purpose in Jesus Christ.
In the early ministry, Apostle Paul encouraged the believers to stay strong, stand together and pursue the purpose of their calling.
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
Each Christian believer is here illustrated as iron that needs to sharpen other iron to keep the fire of the Holy Spirit active and alive within everyone.
The Word Of God Is Sharper
If the Bible illustrates the word of God as a two-edged sword that is sharper than anything, then anyone who wields it must be strong and sharp. We don’t need conscious sinners, cowards, lazy and faithless people in Christianity. Be active and alive!
“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.” (Hebrews 4:12)
By faith and the grace of God, every true believer is worthy of wielding the sword of the Lord against the devil and his crafty schemes.
Finally, the meaning of iron sharpens iron is about being connected to people or friends who stir up excitement by helping each other reach a higher level of strength that will glorify their Maker.