Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17
One of the best qualities to have in a friend is when a friend brings out the best in you, when a friend encourages and challenges you to be the best version of yourself. Friendship in our world seems to be a daunting proposition. That’s because some friends are afraid of losing a friendship, so they build a relationship that is less than completely honest. Other friendships (think college) are built around egging on each other to do crazier and crazier things. Rather than pulling one another back from the edge, some friends try to push each other over it.
The phrase, “Iron sharpens iron” refers to sharpening of two swords. If you rub the blades of two swords together, both will get sharper, one will sharpen the other. Take even two dull blades and rub them together and both will get sharper. When two friends encourage one another to be good and Godly people, both get “sharper.” Even when one friend is dull (or down), the other friend can “sharpen” him or her and bring them back up. This is what good friends do—they bring out the best in each other.
Here are a few ideas for how to sharpen friendships. First, pray for your friends. Ideally, we should pray with our friends, but because that is a very vulnerable (and beautiful) thing, start by praying for your friends. Second, make sure that in every conversation, something positive is said. Sometimes we call our friends, and we complain or gossip. And before you know it, it’s time to end the conversation and nothing good has been said. In my close friendships, one of us will remind the other “hey, tell me something good.” Third, use words of encouragement. Encouragement builds people up. Compliment when you like something. Make sure criticism is constructive and is also followed up with encouragement. Fourth, forgive easily. Any friendship is going to have its ups and downs and mistakes. Make it a point to forgive quickly and easily and to not keep score of offenses. Fifth, set some rules for when things fall off the track, so that you have an agreed upon way to get things back on track. And finally, talk about specific ways to bring out the best in each other. Confide in one another areas for improvement so that in your friendship, those things can be encouraged. This becomes possible when trust has been established.
A good friend is hard to find, and sometimes even harder to keep. Remembering today’s verse of iron sharpening iron is a great reminder that good friends bring out the best in each other.
Lord, thank You for my friends (list their names). Help me to be a good friend. Help me to build relationships that help me to be the best version of myself, the person you intended for me to be. Safeguard my friendships from harm. Help me to be an encouraging friend, a forgiving friend, and a good friend. Surround me with people who will encourage me as well. Amen.
Be a good friend today!