Saturday, November 26, 2011

As Iron Sharpens Iron

First, I hope all my readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Personally, Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays as it is always so nice to get together with family and friends and enjoy good conversation and delicious food.

Of course, I have to admit that I did watch some football on Thanksgiving. I know none of you are surprised by this but I did want to touch on an interesting comment I heard from Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers whose team was playing against the Baltimore Ravens. Jim’s brother John is the head coach of the Ravens who beat the 49ers on Thanksgiving night. After losing the game to his brother’s team, Jim had this to say during his post-game press conference, “There's a saying that says ‘as iron sharpens iron, so does one man sharpen another.’ And let's say my brother, John, is the sharpest iron I've ever encountered.”

Jim Harbaugh didn’t realize that he was not quoting just some saying but the Bible itself. We find the quote in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, who when he first became king of Israel was visited by God in a dream. God said to Solomon that he could ask of Him anything he wanted and God would grant his request. Solomon asked God for “an understanding heart to judge Your people that I might discern between good and evil” (I Kings 3:9). This request pleased God so much that He said, “Because you have asked for this thing and have not asked for long life for yourself….behold, I have done according to your words, see I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you” (I Kings 3:11-12).

The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings that were penned by Solomon himself, the wisest man to ever live. They pass on a core of knowledge and experience that God says we must have if we are to live successfully. The proverbs are not mere old sayings that concern people in far-off lands, but universal principles that apply to all people of all times. Of course, we know this is true as Jim Harbaugh used this one in a football setting which I am sure was the furthest thing from Solomon’s mind when he wrote Proverbs 27.

In Proverbs there are many, many statements about how important it is for men and women to have companions. The most significant one is Proverbs 27:17 which Harbaugh quoted as it is basically saying that men help men. They increase their effectiveness and as indicated in this verse they even increase their satisfaction as it shows up on their countenance or facial appearance.

These kinds of thoughts are traced throughout the Bible. For example in the Book of Ecclesiastes, also written by King Solomon, chapter 4 verse 9 states, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor.” In other words, two can work harder and earn more than one. And verse 10 of the same chapter says, “If they fall the one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him that is alone when he falls for he has not another to help him up.” Again, if someone falls and has no companion to help him, he is in trouble.

It is important to remember that true wisdom does not come from educational institutions or old age but from God, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). God offers wisdom to anyone that asks Him. That is a powerful thought to allow to penetrate our minds and shape our walk.

I Corinthians 1:25 tells us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.” God’s Word contains His mind and heart. The more we know His Word, the more we will know Him. Might I encourage you to spend some time this holiday weekend getting to know the One who is the source of all wisdom.
"God has many ways that He might use to achieve His ends, but His wisdom determined the best way to accomplish them."
- Samuel Willard

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