Have you even been confronted with what you would personally label as a dilemma? In fact, the dilemma is of such a nature that you are not sure whether to pursue something because it might be either immoral, unethical or both. You have this challenge and you are confused … what do you do? You don’t want to offend God … so what route do you take to get clarity of mind?
The first step without doubt is prayer. You need to take your problem before God, asking Him for guidance and wisdom. The second is so seek Christian counsel. Your brothers and sisters in Christ could greatly assist you in getting clarity. In fact, God uses them to help us … especially when we are at a crossroad and don’t want to do the wrong thing since the wrong thing amounts to sinning against God.
Jenny and I discussed this matter and together decided that I would approach three different sources for counsel. Firstly, I spoke to a trusted family member. Secondly, I spoke to a trusted husband and wife couple who have been friends for 40 plus years. Lastly, I spoke to a trusted brother who served with me in gospel ministry for 29 years. What was staggering and almost unexpected is that each one said the same thing. Their explanation answering my question was shaped almost identically.
So, we prayed and then I solicited counsel from trusted Christians. I ought not to have been surprised because if we prayed, then surely I need to trust God to provide His answer. It was an awesome thing because what confronted me was huge. Whatever I did no one but God would know … but one wants to do it right before God and He used three sources (4 total people) to provide an answer to my dilemma … each one saying the same thing. It is so sweet and precious when God provides answers in such a clear manner. This is exactly what the Word of God says:
Pr 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Although it might not happen as much today, I recall seeing people working in their kitchen making a meal and when it came to cutting the meat, be it a piece of Silver Side or a Leg of Lamb, they would take two knives and sharpen the knife they intend uses against the other. I am sure you have seen the picture I’m trying to paint. God says, “iron sharpens iron” … but adds to this metaphor, saying in the same way, “one man sharpens another.” Some Bibles translate it as, “so brother sharpens brother.”
In 1 Samuel 13 we find the Philistines made certain there were no blacksmiths in Israel to prevent javelins, swords and daggers being sharpened. That is, to prevent Israel from having weapons of war. It was so sad that even their agricultural equipment needed to be sharpened by the enemy! We understand the importance of sharpening a tool or weapon. Razor sharpness is required for the instrument to fulfil its duty properly! So what does it mean for a brother to sharpen a brother into razor sharpness?
You can look at the world of science or engineering. The greatest accomplishments have been when men and women have worked together as a team. They sharpen each other as a team. Have you noticed that when speaking of elders, Paul and James only use the word in its plural form when referring to leadership?
1Ti 4:14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
1Ti 5:17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
Jas 5:14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Why? Because as a team they sharpen each other for service and ministry. This is why a pastor should never lead a congregation by himself.
But what does it mean when a brother sharpens a brother? When I met with a younger pastor last week, he had an idea in his mind. He bounced the idea off me and being older (more seasoned) I explained what I would do. He was overjoyed to see a different take on his idea … a take that would be more beneficial in the long run. So here it is … remember the encounter those two disciples had with Jesus on the Emmaus Road? As the Risen Christ left them, they said:
Lk 24:32 “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
We sharpen each other as we use Scripture with each other … provoking, rebuking, challenging, guiding, loving, helping, preventing, and encouraging … all this is part of sharpening. When iron sharpens iron … iron is at play to cause razor sharpness but when brother sharpens brother, the mind and soul are tempered into razor sharpness! Remember the Word is like a double edged sword? Look what it does:
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The razor sharpness of the Word of God cuts so deep it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. This action happens as brother sharpens brother using the Bible or Biblical principles. It is not mind control but Scripture shaping your mind to know and follow God’s way.
It’s right here that we see the huge importance of Christian fellowship.
1Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
Do you have at least one mature Christian brother or sister who you may confide in to the point where brother (or sister) is able to sharpen brother (or sister)?
Dear God, thank You for giving me trusted people around me to sharpen me to be razor alert in Christ. Amen.