As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
There was a movie released back in the 90s called Jerry McGuire. If you’ve never seen it, it is a tale of looking out for others rather than always looking out for ourselves. It’s set amongst the friendship between an NFL (football) player and his agent, Jerry. In addition, there are love interests. Jerry becomes smitten with a single mom. Odds are, even if you haven’t seen the movie, it was within the context of Jerry’s relationship with the single mom that a phrase was uttered that is still repeated in our culture today, “You complete me.”
In my life, I’ve thought about this concept often. No, I’m not a big chick-flick kind of guy. But, what does truly complete us? I’ve found, and the Scriptures teach, that the only one who can truly complete, fill, redeem, transform us is Jesus Christ. So, the quote from Jerry was a little off. But, let’s get into the sentiment behind the phrase.
As our verse today states, friends are supposed to sharpen friends. So, what does this mean? To help us understand, let’s break it down in biblical terms.
In ancient times, warriors often carried swords for battle. When the swords were formed, the blacksmith spent a lot of time shaping them, molding them, and sharpening them. After all, a dull sword in battle doesn’t do much good. But, as battles were fought, the swords would take a beating from countless blows against shields, other swords, or other hard objects. The sword would start to dent and dull. In order to be effective, the soldier had two choices: get a new sword; or take the dull sword to a blacksmith to re-sharpen.
It’s this last piece that this verse hones in on. A true friend doesn’t make us dull in life. True friends don’t beat on us and wear us down. Instead, friends are constantly looking out for our wellbeing. They want us to be sharp. They want us to succeed. A good friend seeks to help others do better. They enhance our lives, not bring them down.
Now comes our gut-check moment. Are you the type of friend that is constantly wearing down others (gossip, “venting,” harsh words, selfishness) or do you seek to always help them succeed and grow as a person?
Be a blacksmith. Seek to sharpen, not dull others. Seek to provide for their wellbeing.