My husband’s hobby was woodcarving. My favorite piece he did is the Canada goose pictured above. Which I think is rather funny, considering there are about 493 real Canada geese annoyingly hanging out across the street.
Watching Ken, I learned some things about woodcarving like there are hardwoods and softwoods. You work the blade away from you instead of toward you. And, one of the most dangerous things a woodcarver can do is work with dull tools.
Back, shortly before Amazon was in its prime, Ken read that a particular kind of sharpener was considered the best for what he needed: one with a large amount of steel (iron) in the mix. He searched for a particular brand that was recommended in his woodcarving magazine, etc. – but couldn’t find it. (Remember, this was before plugging something into a search engine was possible.)
Then on the way to camp out in Montana one year, we stopped in at Wall Drug Store (yes, THAT Wall Drug Store) for a strawberry ice cream soda (sort of tradition because we were on that road so many times.) And ta da! They had the right sharpener. And the sharpener worked, just as the ad had promised.
In Proverbs we read, Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17). This is the same concept of a knife or blade sharpener that we use today. Ken needed those woodcarving tools as sharp as he could get them so that they would make clean cuts. Sharpening gets rid of any minuscule pieces of shaving and makes the surface smooth once again. Sometimes polish is applied once the blade is sharpened.
What does that have to do with friendship? Kind of interesting, actually. Friends should sharpen once another. Overall, this could be applied to life in general. Friends encourage each other to do new things, to have adventures together, to continue a project and not give up.
Spiritually, the verse means to help each other grow in the knowledge of Scripture, to encourage each other to live out their faith, to discuss the sermon/lesson they’ve heard. The sharpener is somewhat abrasive, rubbing against the blade – but that abrasion is a help.
Sometimes sharpening each other means respectfully disagreeing because sometimes disagreeing and having to back up our point, helps us to learn.
Good friends do not stagnate. Good friends push each other, encourage each other, help each other. The writer of Hebrews wrote: And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (Hebrews 10:24)
Let’s teach our kids to be a Proverbs 27:17 type of friend.