This is a powerful piece of wisdom concerning the importance and the power of community, and of our relationships with one another, particularly as it relates to our faith, and the lives we live in accord with that faith. We need one another to “sharpen” our faith. We have duties toward one another. We ought to love each other enough to challenge each other, and to bring each other back when we have gone astray.
Like the face of an iron blade is sharpened by an iron honing tool, our faith and our Christian lives are “honed,” or “sharpened” by listening to and learning from one another. We learn by paying attention to the actions of those who are advanced in the faith, those who have had more experience, or training, or those who have been called by God to lead us through the ministry. Those who live in a manner consistent with the faith, who live as they preach, are those on whom we ought to fix our eyes as we continue on our own faith journey. For by their example we learn much.
We are to listen to the words of those who are advanced in the faith as well. We do this by being in conversation with those who are great examples of living faith. We need to direct our questions to such as these, then listen, then go off and contemplate their words. How do they apply to our lives? Do they, in loving ways, reveal our own failures to us? Do they show us the real meaning of kindness and mercy, love and forgiveness? Do they cause in us a burning desire to be reconciled and healed by Christ and to begin again to walk in his Way? Even more importantly, do we listen to the Word of God that we encounter in the Scriptures? Do we let the words of God that we encounter in the scriptures “sharpen” our own faith? Do we contemplate them, let them sink in, to become a part of our daily lives? The Word of God is the iron that is sharpening our souls.
To those whom God has given the great grace of faith, a great duty has also been given to them to “sharpen” the faith of others by their words and their lives lived openly and lovingly in the faith. This is a matter of humility. It is a humble recognition of the idea expressed by Jesus in Luke’s gospel that, “to whom much is given, much will be required.” (Luke 12:48) This one recognizes that he or she is only an instrument in the hands of God. He or she is the iron honing tool that God wishes to use to “sharpen” the faith of others. Those who have been called by God in this way take on these duties in the name of the Lord, then, never in their own name.
Lord, help us to know that we do not yet know you fully. Give us the grace of wisdom, to let ourselves be “sharpened” by the words and deeds of those you have graced with great faith in this life. Let us humbly listen to and learn from those who are strong in the faith. Help us to “listen” and to understand your words and your deeds in the scriptures more deeply. Give us the courage to bend our wills to yours, for in this alone will we be “sharpened.” We pray this prayer in the name of Jesus. Amen!
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