20Follow the example
of good people
and live an honest life.
21If you are honest and innocent,
you will keep your land;
22if you do wrong
and can never be trusted,
you will be rooted out.
17Just as iron sharpens iron,
friends sharpen the minds
of each other.
Common sense can be intuitive or it can come from experience and pain. That’s why it’s so important in raising children to help them learn through a combination of both instruction and experience. When I was a young boy, it seemed that I often had to learn lessons the hard way. The challenge of taking advice from parents or friends was more than I was willing to accept, which led to some bad decisions.
My father was a carpenter. Keeping his tools sharp was almost a fixation with him. He would say over and over, “Sharp tools make your work easier.” If you have ever tried using a drill with a dull bit, you will find it doesn’t work very well. In your effort to drill a hole, you’ll get smoke and an offensive burning odour. Common sense says to stop and sharpen the bit, but expediency says to push harder.
Whenever you sharpen a metal tool, you create friction and small particles of steel fall off. It makes your work easier in the end, but it’s not very pleasant if you are the drill bit.
Being sharpened by others can feel offensive at first. Our pride might be challenged, but the wise person will not quickly dismiss the advice of a true and trusted friend. The wise Solomon isn’t suggesting we look for argumentative friends or create an environment of friction. But we should be wise enough to understand and appreciate that God often uses others to sharpen us.
Dear Lord, please bring people into my life whom I can trust and whose advice will sharpen me and cause me to be more effective for you. I want to be a sharp tool in your hand. Amen