Proverbs 27:17 Iron Sharpens Iron - Sharpening generates friction and heat

Proverbs 27:17 – People Sharpen People

The wisest man who ever lived said, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17). Solomon used an interesting analogy in this Proverb.  Because sharpening metal requires friction,  it always generates heat, and may cause sparks to fly! But the wise will receive instruction and learn through this interaction. This post will examine the meaning and application of Proverbs 27:17.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another

(Proverbs 27:17)

God uses People to Sharpen us

God often uses other people to work in our lives. Our friends and family may bring out the best in us by lovingly encouraging us. But God often challenges us using people who rub us the wrong way.

This friction may chafe.  If we are not careful, we may get hot under the collar and lash out at those who irritate us. But that would not be the way of Christ.

The Way of Christ

Jesus has told us:

  • Be not angry; instead agree with your adversary and be reconciled (Matthew 5:21-26)
  • Resist not the evil; turn the other cheek instead (Matthew 5:39)
  • Go an extra mile beyond what is required (Matthew 5:40)
  • Forgive as your Heavenly Father has forgiven you (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-22, 35; Luke 17:3-4)
  • Love even your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48)

Remember what Paul said:

  • “No temptation has befallen you that is not common to man, but God is faithful and will not allow you to be tested beyond your ability” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
  • All things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28).
  • So you should give thanks in everything because that is God’s will (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Remember the Admonition of James:

James 1:2 Count it All Joy

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

James 1:2-4 / NASB

The next time someone gives you some “Constructive Criticism,” you feel yourself getting hot, and you’re tempted to get mad: Consider the possibility that God is using that person to test you.

Even the most irritating feedback usually contains some helpful truth if you are honest enough and strong enough to face it. Instead of angrily rejecting the criticism, be patient and accept the lesson God has for you. 

Let the trying of your faith produce patient endurance in you, “that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:4)

James 1:4 KJV - Let Patience make you Perfect and Entire

Proverbs 27:17 Summary

But why stop there?  Go “the extra mile.”

Thank them for the gift of feedback they have given you.

(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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