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June 9, 2021

The Need for Sharpening (Part 4 of 4)

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).


Over the last three weeks I’ve been unpacking this verse. (I encourage you to read those posts if you haven’t already.)  I hope I’ve made a strong case for why God-fearing and Christ-following men and women should enter into sharpening conversations. 


There are many reasons why you might have a sharpening conversation and there are varying degrees of difficulty.  It’s not necessarily a sin issue that you are confronting.  Maybe someone is just making poor decisions.  Maybe someone is oblivious to how he carries himself and the path of destruction he leaves in his wake.  Perhaps it’s a health issue, financial issue or relational issue.  We are often blind to our shortcomings, and we need someone else to point them out and help us correct them. 

The following are a few things to consider as you seek to sharpen the people in your life. 

  • Prayerfully consider what to say and what to do.
  • Check your motives.  Do you genuinely want to help a brother or are you using a situation as a chance to flex your self-righteousness? 
  • Approach the conversation with complete humility.
  • You may be responsible for playing this sharpening role, but you are not responsible for his or her reaction.  They might thank you or they might tell you to take a hike.
  • Ask penetrating questions.
  • Listen well.  There might be more to the situation than you originally thought.
  • Sharpening is an act of love!  Confirm your love for your brother as you enter the potentially difficult conversation. 
  • Consider the best time and place to have the conversation.
  • It’s usually best to have a one-on-one conversation, but Jesus describes what a sharpening conversation might look like in Matthew 18:15-17 if you aren’t able to “win him over.”  You might need backup. 
  • Remember Proverbs 27:5-6: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

In closing, I need you to know that it’s one thing for me to write about this, but it’s another thing for me to always faithfully sharpen in the manner in which I have described.  I have certainly fallen into the “niceness trap” in the past and have elevated likeability over responsibility when there were occasions to call a brother or sister out. 


I’m still growing as a sharpener and I would imagine that you are too.  We are all in this together.  Let’s keep entering these hard conversations because we will all be better for it. 


Questions for reflection and discussion:

1.     Is there anything you would add to the list above?

2.     As you read this series did God bring anyone to mind whom you should have a sharpening conversation with?   



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