Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sandpaper Or Steel

If a sword had a mind, it would not want to be dull and tarnished. That sword would be useless and obscure, and there is no satisfaction in uselessness or obscurity. For the sword to change, it must be removed from the isolation of its scabbard, pushed and pulled across a sharpening steel, and then rubbed until it shines. While what it is on the inside must not change, what it is on the outside must be reshaped or it will remain forever dull and dim.

A dull, tarnished life is utterly dissatisfying. It is useless, and God has no plan for our uselessness. His plan for us is for a future and a hope, a purpose that glorifies Himself and satisfies us in a way we never thought possible.

To accomplish that, He has given us His Word, His Spirit, and His People. While we seem to get the Word and Spirit, the People part of the equation is often more difficult. Proverbs offers great insight into the nature of the relationships God uses to transform us, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." (Prov. 27:17)

We are all unique, all square pegs trying to fit into someone else's round holes. God uses that uniqueness, that differentness to create a friction in our relationships that results in transformation from dullness to sharpness and brilliance. When the sword is pushed and pulled against the sharpening stone, both sword and stone are changed.

Isolate yourself from the body of Christ, remove yourself from the friction of others and you will remain dull and tarnished. Submit yourself, as Scripture says, "one to another" and you will be sharpened as will those who sharpen you.

Only the Word and the Spirit can change our hearts. Our identity is secured only by the blood of Christ, just as the sword is forged in the fires of the furnace. What we are outwardly, though, is changed through the friction of relationships.

One warning, though. Some of us are not prone to isolation. We are committed to the process, but we may begin to think of ourselves as sharpening stones rather than swords. We may give ourselves permission to be rude, irritating, or unkind. Iron sharpening iron is never permission to be sandpaper.