As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 NIV
Have you ever worked with a dull knife? The Deli I worked in had a rule: a dull knife is an unsafe knife. You tend to chop or push harder when you knife is dull. This can lead to accidents. If you lose control over the item you’re cutting and you’re pushing down real hard with you dull knife…you might soon lose a part of you.
The deli I worked in had a knife sharpening service. All of our knives would be collected every 2-4 weeks and the service would bring us freshly sharpened and polished knives to work with. We could all tell how smooth and easy it was to cut a loaf of bread or dice vegetables after receiving these freshly sharpened knives.
As I understand it, sharpening any metal tool takes a took of a denser toughness. You scrape the blade along side the harder tool and it shaves away bits of imperfections in the blade. You may have seen butchers or deli workers use a honing rod. In between knife sharpening, we would need to smooth out those bumps on our own by using the honing rod.
What does this have to say about people “sharpening” each other? Mad props to God’s Chemistry Set blog. I was looking for some insight and scientific info on what happens in this process of metal sharpening and they pointed me in the right direction.
Mentoring frequently comes to mind when we talk about helping others grow. Mentors challenge their mentees to try new things. They use their own experience to shave off some of the bumps and nicks in the person they are mentoring. They then also rely on someone else, stronger, tougher and more experienced than themselves to do the same for them.
Ultimately we need to let God’s word and his Holy Spirit correct and shave off those bits in our life that are displeasing to him (or at least not as useful as they could be if they were sharpened.) But we need fellowship with others to guide and help us discern these things. I hope you find that here in this blog. I also find that doing a YouVersion bible study with others is beneficial. You can join me there. “What If” Reading Plan by Matthew West.
“Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.”
Proverbs 25:25 NIV
Have you noticed that we live in a world saturated and obsessed with bad news? When I was a kid, I always wondered why my parents read the newspaper at night or bothered to watch the evening news. Now I’m an adult with a family of my own and I find myself drawn to news and info. And 99% of it is bad or at least sassy news. YouTube news videos and news article frequently have “so and so destroyed this person who has bad ideas and does bad stuff!”
If we start to drown in all that bad news, it can make us weary. We need to be refreshed. Enter: Good news. Good news from afar doesn’t care about your cynicism. It just is good.
I felt at church we were focusing on negative and sad news. We needed a counter balance. I found some by looking at Nazarene News. I found news stories there of encouragement. People and churches who were learning to care for their community in new an desperately needed ways all across the globe.
Perhaps you need some good news today. Here is a link to their site so you can see for yourself how God is refreshing people with His good news all over the world.
“Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments.”
Proverbs 23:6-8 NIV
Have you ever had this happen to you? (I know I sound like an infomercial). You are invited for dinner or a party, but the host only talks about how much it is costing them?
I can picture this being something the father of the bride who is paying for a wedding reception might say. They love their daughter, but begrudgingly fork over the cash to pay for various guests at the wedding meal.
Only advice I have: don’t be like that guy. If you give something away out of love (or any reason, really) it’s not longer yours to control or be upset with how it’s spent. Essentially, if you’re going to be generous, don’t attach strings. If you’re not going to be generous, don’t pretend like you are. Or your guests will sarcastically reply, “sorry to inconvenience you…”
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. In the paths of the wicked are snares and pitfalls, but those who would preserve their life stay far from them.”
Proverbs 22:3, 5 NIV
Alrighty! We’re back to movie inspired devotional thoughts! Have you ever seen “Twister?” Yes, the movie about tornado chasers, not the party game with colored dots.
In Twister (spoiler warning) there are of course the main crew of chasers who we are suppose to relate to, care about most and root for. The there is a groups of chasers who are trying to beat our heroes to collecting the scientific data first…making the breakthrough discovery on tornadoes first. (Sounds childish if you think about it that way, but competitive adults can be childish.)
In the film there is a time where our heroes sense that a tornado will easily shift directions, so they don’t choose the obvious route to the tornado. They turn off a different road. The leader of the competing team sees this and decides to stay on course with the tornado, pushing to make the scientific breakthrough first, no matter the cost.
Our heroes do the right thing and try to warn the other team of the impending danger but the leader of “team corporate” doesn’t listen and tells his driver to keep going. It ends up getting the two of them impaled and exploded.
When we are cautious about something, that’s not a bad thing. But it is very unwise to not heed the wisdom of others. You might be taking others along with you up into a tornado.
Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Proverbs 17:1 NIV
Have you ever tried to eat and enjoy a meal when you know the people you eat with are mad at each other or you. Or perhaps you are mad at them. Either way this verse reminds us of the simple truth: a little morsel is better than a feast, depending on the emotional setting it’s eaten in.
Kings detest wrongdoing, for a throne is established through righteousness.
Proverbs 16:12 NIV
If you’ve study enough history you’ll see a pattern where historical events truly repeat themselves. Kings, heads of state, governmental leaders are dethroned when they join in on wrong doing. That is to say when they Lord their power over their subjects, abuse it and do not bring real justice in the land. You can be sure that their days are numbered.
But when a righteous leader guides his or her people, they don’t need to deceive or twist arms to get people to join them in the pursuits of their vision. People will line up and volunteer.
As soon as they no longer stand up for justice, for what is right, the people lose all confidence and faith in them.
What kind of leader are you? What kind would you rather follow?
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Proverbs 15:1 NIV
Thanks again for joining me. It’s encouraging to know that I’m not the only one getting somethings out of the Proverbs this month.
I think the sheer relatability of the wisdom contained in Proverbs is why I like it so much. Even if its historical setting is ancient to us, it is extremely applicable. Today’s passage reminds me some of the training I had when I was becoming a foster parent.
Little kids will either defy you or throw a fit when you sternly correctly. A foster parent I was learning from would always encourage her little children “let’s be sweet.” And she would highlight the behavior of that “sweetness”. Being kind, not pushing or especially not biting. “that’s not being sweet…”
As we’ve grown and so have our girls. And we’ve tried to not fly off the handle and yell when correcting them. The poor choice they made has consequences but all I’m doing is tearing apart our relationship when I’m adding a new consequence: making dad “Hulk out.”
They problem with reacting emotionally and in anger to problems before you is it usually begets more anger, causing more problems. We can see this in parenting, but also in interpersonal relationships between adults.
We you yelled at or were you calmly talked to when being corrected? How did that approach make you feel? Let me know it the comments.
In the middle of your grief, stress, sadness, has some well meaning person ever said to you “I know just how you feel” ?
I believe most people are trying to help, but they don’t understand how damaging and dismissive that phrase is. The truth is found here in Proverbs 14:10. No one can truly know or under our bitterness (sorrow) or really feel and enjoy our joy, quite like we do in our own hearts.
What to do with that person who constantly projects their own life and troubles when all you are trying to do is share yours?
1. Forgive them – the most likely don’t realize how what they are doing is not helpful
2. Kindly explain to them why it’s not helpful. “When you jump in with yourself own story, I fell like you are not listening and caring about mine.”
3. Find someone else to share your heart. People will get the drift when fewer people confide in them. They don’t have anyone’s confidence.
One last thing: unlike your average Jane or Joe, there is someone who can understand our every hurt. His name is Jesus and he’s just a prayer away.
“Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.”
Proverbs 12:16 NIV
We have met this person before. In some cases we have been this person. Proverbs frequently juxtaposes two lifestyles: foolish and wise. The foolish person in this verse is one who flies off the handle, reacts emotionally and spouts “their annoyance.” This makes up like 80% of the internet posts (not a real statistic).
Here we have the word prudent as the opposite of foolish. Someone who is level headed. Who doesn’t fly off the handle at every insult. Why is that important?
Many times people who react emotionally to an offense, then publicly gripe about it, will end up walking those words back or apologizing all together. If you overlook an insult or offense, this verse leads me to believe that’s a prudent thing thing to do. People who think about the weight of their words before speaking (or posting) rarely have to apologize or correct their previous statements.
Today we have a two-fer! Here are two different verses and my thoughts to go with them.
“The Lord detests dishonest scales, but accurate weights find favor with him.”
Proverbs 11:1 NIV
I think many of us have stepped onto a scale, either at home or at the Doctor’s office and thought, “this scale’s not right…it must be broken. Needs new batteries or something.” Whether founded or not, we’ve been a bit suspicious of scales we’ve used. [Are they accurate and fair?]
In my job a a grocery store, sometimes I repackage frozen veggies or fruits for sale. I bag them, weigh the bag and the label says how heavy the product was supposed to be. When I first started, doing this part of my job, I would weigh the product to exactly the right weight. Either 2 or 3 pound depending on the product. Then I was told we needed to add .05 of a pound to compensate for the weight of the packaging! How awesome. We only charge for the product, not the packaging. A person expects all the bags of veggies or fruit to be the same weight. It’s my goal to keep our scales honest and accurate.
God appreciates that, but more over this verse speaks to injustices around the world. Everyday people are cheated out of so much for the gain of someone else. Let’s ask God to balance the scales and be ready if and when he uses us to do so.
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”
Proverbs 11:22 NIV
Gold rings, even nose rings where beautiful gifts! In fact when Abraham’s servant goes to find a wife for his master’s son, he ends up gifting a nose ring to a kind, young woman named Rebekah
So Solomon writes this piece of advice: a woman who shows no discretion is like putting a beautiful, meaningful piece of jewelry into the snotty nose of an unclean animal. I don’t really have much to add to it except to say Solomon was very good with the metaphors and analogies.