People who join together on the journey of faith sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, the Bible says. For a long time I had the meaning of this all wrong.
I once thought this scripture meant that when somebody did something I considered a bit odd, it was my obligation to correct that person. “I need to sharpen him, as iron sharpens iron”, I’d reason.
Now I realize that the purpose of other people’s behavior is to sharpen me. The one in the group who is hard to love is there to teach me to better love. The individual who requires patience while rambling on in conversation is in my life to help increase my patience. Likewise, the friend who displays overwhelming grace is an example that challenges me to show more grace. They all are instruments of God doing what they do, which sharpens me by extension.
This process requires no real effort on my part, other than to stay engaged with some humans – and the deeper the relationships can go, the better. In the context of true community, people DO sharpen each other. It’s not something for which we have to strive. It simply happens, like the Bible said it would.
In a world where great value is placed on being cutting edge, the method for the spiritual life is simple. Just show up.