Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)
In Biblical times, weapons and tools were made of iron. As tools and weapons are used, they become dull. Not only that, but iron softens and weakens over time. In order to make it strong again it has to be reheated and melded with another piece of iron, placed in hot coals and then quenched in water. The new reworked tool has properties of the old, but is be renewed in its strength. The blade is then sharpened by the repeated sliding pressure of an abrasive back and forth across the edge.
Just like a new iron tool is forged through pounding, heat and melding, God uses people in our lives to sharpen us- to smooth out the rough edges of our character; to make us better, stronger, and more purposeful. Like a super smoothie created from mixing different fruits, proteins, and vegetables, our character is forged by the blending our lives with others. As our lives come in contact with others our character is refined and strengthened as our unique strengths, and weaknesses are melded with theirs and we both come out better people in the process.
Forging iron is not an easy process. It takes heat and friction. It requires melting, reforming and cooling. In the hands of a master blacksmith the right amount of each required step is applied in the right sequence with the right amount of time and pressure. If any part of the process is circumvented, the end product is flawed-it is too soft or too brittle and cannot be used. It is either thrown out or re-forged until it is right.
Character change is not easy either. Allowing God to use the people in our lives to mold us into the women He wants us to be requires yielding to the process and allowing the craftsman to do his work. It’s hard to have our hearts heated, our natural tendencies rubbed the wrong way, and to have our protective shells broken open by those around us. But God has placed the people around us to serve a purpose and that purpose is to make us into strong, sharp, yet flexible, tools for His work and glory.
Maybe you are like me and you hate friction. You are a peacekeeper at heart. You constantly maneuver to make sure everyone is happy. Encouragement comes more easily for you than confrontation. You embrace the first and run from the second. But, sometimes we are called to step up and step into the forging fire of friction because without it we become dull, soft, brittle, and useless. In those character forging moments, I need to trust the craftsman and let Him use the abrasive pressure, heat and pounding of my relationships to forge me into the woman He wants me to be.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.