May 25, 2021
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).
Every man needs men in his life who will encourage, equip and challenge him. Such men are blessings! However, it’s not enough to simply listen to such admonishment from our brothers. Growth in Christlikeness is the goal, and this takes work and intentionality.
As a swim coach I work with a lot of triathletes. For most triathletes, swimming is the hardest of the three disciplines (cycling and running being the other two). A few summers ago, I was hired to do a series of private lessons with a triathlete who wanted to “take his swimming to the next level.” He had some ambitious goals and I was stoked to help him. I love that kind of go-for-it attitude and I spent several hours with him over the course of a few weeks, correcting his stroke and creating workouts. He made a lot of progress, and I left him with a workout plan that would help him achieve his athletic goals.
About a month later I happened to be at the pool at the same time as him. Without him knowing it, I watched him swim. His stroke was awful. He had completely regressed to his former way of swimming which was incredibly inefficient and therefore, much slower. I looked at the workout he had written that was in a plastic bag at the end of his lane. It was nothing like the workouts I had given him. Disappointed, I waited for him to stop on the wall long enough for me to say hi. I asked him how his training was going. He looked at me, thanked me for my time and said, “Mike, I want to be a better swimmer, but I’m just not willing to put in the work for it.”
A lot of men are like that as it relates to growing in their relationship with Christ. We say we want to grow spiritually and be better men, but it doesn’t just happen without a lot of work. God uses other men in our lives to sharpen us—to call us out and challenge us. It doesn’t do any good to just HEAR godly wisdom and then dismiss it. The goal is to take it to heart and let it shape us.
I will say this though, not all rebukes are warranted and not all criticism is valid. The wise man knows what to learn from and what to dismiss. The foolish man dismisses criticism too quickly.
Next week we’ll look at why most men choose not to sharpen their brothers.
Questions for reflection and discussion:
1. Have you ever received godly wisdom from a brother in Christ, yet chose to ignore it? Were there any consequences?
2. Are you too quick to dismiss criticism because you feel defensive? If so, what does this look like? Has such behavior hurt you over the years?