Iron Sharpens Iron
by Amy Saleam
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” 1 John 1:6 (NKJV).
Fellowship is one of the most commonly used words in Christianity and is pivotal to Christian living. When we hear that term, it reminds us of hanging out after Friday night youth group, having a chat with someone after Sunday liturgy or attending Church events. Of course, the aforementioned activities are beautiful ways of building relationships with fellow Christians and creates a sense of community, however, they only scratch the surface of what fellowship is at its core. Lets dig deeper.
Biblically speaking, fellowship comes from the word koinonia. This means to participate, to share or be in communion with God and fellow Christians. Understanding this reveals that fellowship with one another recognises a common denominator between us, something that links us together – and that is Christ himself. And so if we truly are in fellowship with Christ, we must embrace true fellowship with one another and this involves more than just superficial conversation.
Fellowship amongst Christians entails sharing our own individual experiences with one another and to also participate in experiences together. The purpose of this sharing is to encounter Christ communally, draw and encourage each other to pursue a deeper relationship with Him and support one another in our walk of faith, particularly during hardships and discouragement.
Pray for each other, with each other
Prayer is a key demonstration of Christian fellowship. When we pray, we experience an intimate relationship with God and put before Him our deepest sorrows, thanks, fears and requests. So if we are able to do this for ourselves, we should do so for each other. Since we collectively are the Body of Christ, how can we focus on one part and neglect the other? If you have a rash on both of your arms, do you only treat the one on the right hand and leave the left? Are they not of the same body? Similarly, just as we pray for ourselves and our own struggles, we should pray for one another. We are not just individual Christians who are meant to live our faith alone; rather we are in communion with each other within the Body of Christ. So let us not just consider one part of Christ’s body i.e. ourselves, but pray for the whole Body – our brothers and sisters.
Support one another – build one another
“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” Proverbs 27:17.
The principle of sharpening each other does not mean convicting with harsh judgment, but rather to approach others with our humble concern. Many a time this can be difficult as the execution of our concern can rather seem as a criticism, but if we approach one another with compassion and remind ourselves that we are not perfect in our own flesh, but are made perfect in Him, then we are able to approach each other with humility.
The book of Proverbs places onus on each of us to “sharpen” our friend for the purpose of building one another. Over time, an iron tool may become blunt if not constantly sharpened by a second piece of iron and heat. Likewise, when we do not place ourselves in God’s presence daily, our faith may too become blunt and our sense of dependence on Him weakens. Our focus then shifts onto life’s distractions and we become clouded with our burdens and fears. So we see that it becomes the responsibility of the second iron to sharpen the first in order to regain its purpose. Similarly, our walk in faith requires us to be in fellowship with one another so that when one does become spiritually lukewarm and faith is dampened, we can be the second iron for each other.
Hence, we are also prompted to be a friend who sits with others in their darkest days to remind them of and embody Christ’s heart. As we are in koinonia and called to share experiences with each other, we can help carry and lift each other’s burdens and sorrows. Actually when we do so, we half the sorrow and double the joy – and that joy is one which we share in being a part of the Body of Christ. This joy is made evident when we help our brothers and sisters through life’s inevitable valleys. Therefore being in fellowship requires us to place one hand on our friend’s shoulder in this valley, and the other hand pointing to and redirecting their focus to our mountain peak – Christ.
Our sharpening should be motivated by the desire of wanting nothing less than Christ for one another. When a friend is discouraged and experiencing hardship, our fellowship involves us reminding them of God’s truths and making His light apparent during their spiritual winter. When we share this experience with each other, let us remind one another that our hearts are held by Him, and that even when the trees look barren, God is working beneath the soil.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.