The Power of Two

Proverbs 27
  /  February 4, 2024
Speaker: Jonathon Slagenweit

Scripture tells us that he’s a friend that sticks closer than a brother, and I’m thankful for that this morning. Couple of months ago, I had preached a mini series, 2 sermons, on the subject of how do we stay spiritually sharp? How do we keep that edge on our spiritual lives? And the two messages that we looked at, the first one was the importance of staying in the word of God, keeping, keeping ourselves in the word of God.

Importance of our fellowship, not not separating ourselves, but the importance of our gathering together and as a part of our being in the word and being in fellowship one with another, that Spiritually. Spiritually. Because of the nature of when that series happened, Christmas came and there was at least one more sermon that I wanted to preach in relationship to that, after we come out of, Christmas. And then we kind of got into a couple messages I had not intended that become a 3 week series on the importance of hearing God’s word. But as I was getting ready for our series on the one another passages of scripture, I was reminded of this text and saw the importance of the marrying of those 2.

Our importance of fellowship one with another and the importance of of our being together to sharpen ourselves. The passage of scripture that we’re gonna look at this morning is just one verse. It’s found in Proverbs chapter 27. You may not even have to turn there to know what that passage of scripture is when we read it. But I think it’d be helpful for you.

Invite you to stand as we read this together and pray together. I’m gonna invite you to stand as we read this together and pray together. These these are words that are written by Solomon. Solomon is writing instruction for his children, words to help for them to live by and to benefit by. Proverbs chapter 27 verse 17 says this, Iron sharpeneth iron.

So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Some renderings of that would be iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another. Let’s pray together. Father, in these few moments that we have together, we are turning to your word for instruction. We’re looking to your word for a means of how we can know what you desire in our lives.

I pray that this morning your word would have power to teach us, to rebuke us, to instruct us, to help us. I pray that through the help of your spirit that your word would be illuminated in our lives and help us to grow in our spiritual walk with you. I pray in Jesus name, amen. You may be seated. On Wednesday nights over the past 2 months or so, we have been studying, one, how to better study the word of God, read the word of God, understand One of the lessons that we dealt with, learning how to read a verse is to look at what that has to say, what that verse means within its context.

So sometimes, you can read a passage of scripture and depending on its context, it it helps to give you broader understanding. Anybody ever read the book of Proverbs and thought, especially whenever you get to this latter part. The first part, it seems like the Proverbs, there’s a little more story form, but then you get to the latter part. And I’ve told you this before that for a long time I didn’t like the book of Proverbs because it was just like rapid fire bullets, you know. And I didn’t know how to put it all together.

How do I keep all of these little sayings together and profit from And it’s easy when you come to Proverbs chapter 27 to read this verse. And then if you read the rest of the chapter, say how in the world does that verse fit in any kind of context. And the danger could be that we would just take that verse and we would we would pull it out and say it’s a standalone verse. Entire chapter, Proverbs chapter 20 7. You’ll discover some things that I think are of great value as it pertains particularly to this verse.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance If you have your bible still open, I want you to notice some of the the context in which this than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. Forsake your own friend or your father’s friend and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbor, who is near than a brother, who’s far away. Preface here.

Okay? Guys, this is not a place to say amen. Alright? There are appropriate places and this is not one. I just want to put a caveat there.

A constant dripping on a day of steady rain and a contentious woman are alike. He who would restrain her, restrains the wind and grasps oil with his right hand. And if you go a little farther beyond our text, verse 22, though you pound a fool in a mortar in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from You say, Pastor, how does all of that fit into the context of this idea that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of a friend, or one man sharpens another. Genuine relationships, authentic relationships, means by where this this comes about. The chapter is teaching about the value of honest relationships that ultimately help us to become more like Christ.

Do you believe the power of a friend can help you to become more Christ like? Shape you to become more Christ like? Do you believe that even foolish people can help to produce greater Christ like character in your life. Absolutely. It seems that friendships and families and marriages and all of these play key roles in helping us morning.

I want to talk to us about from this this first part of this series on the one another passages, the importance and the power of 2. 2 ways that in which this text has been translated over the years. Probably, the least popular of the 2 views of how this is interpreted is a negative view. Thing, but it’s actually, it’s this grinding, this this harshness, I mean, they just, they, they know how to shift gears without a clutch. And there are ways in which that, that happens, right?

I mean, they just, they, they know how to shift gears without a clutch. Those of you who know how to drive a standard vehicle, you know that’s not healthy. Transmission. There are people that they just I mean, they just know how to rub you the wrong way. They just know how to They just know where that spot is and they just like to dig.

And that’s one of the ways in which some interpreters have interpreted this verse. It’s not it’s not this joyous, oh, this is a good thing. This is just, oh, you know, as iron sharpens an eye. So one one friend does that for another. No.

Sometime, some people have interpreted this. No. This is this is about people just until it’s not long, until your life is pressed and shaped, sharpened. Some would say that this is actually a means of, it would have the imagery of war, the sharpening of of a knife for the purpose of striking. That’s one of the ways that it’s been interpreted.

The most common way that this has been interpreted is that as one person works in the life of another person’s life, they are strengthened and sharpened into what they should be. That is by and large the most popular, that’s what Solomon is trying to get at it, this passage of scripture, is that through all of these things in life, marriage, good, all of this has the ability to be used to work in our lives for our good. To work in our lives for our and cause all things to work together for good to those who are called according to his purpose. It does not say that all things are good. The truth is, is sometimes the way in which people work in our lives is painful.

It, it, lives. Read this particular verse, there is something that Solomon is trying to communicate about the importance of multiples. It’s what I would call the principle of relationships. Within this particular text, Solomon clearly says, as iron sharpens, not itself, importance and a connection here between this working out of multiples more than one. If you’ve ever read passages of scripture, there seems to I’ve asked the question, is there a connection between this verse and other passages that seem to point out the importance of multiples?

Let me give you a couple of examples of that. And the boobed and the when God creates humanity and of the animals, he says, all right, Adam, want you to name if you read Genesis chapter 1, everything’s good. It is. It’s all good. After every day God finishes, he says, oh, it’s good.

Oh, that’s Oh, that’s good. And then he makes man and says, ho ho ho. That’s really Then you come that’s really good. Then you come to chapter 2. God brings Adam into, this this area where he begins to name all of the creatures, and Adam begins this process.

Right? And he comes down to the end and he says, wait a second, God. There were 2 of them, and there’s only one of me. Do you know the first place in scripture that you read that something is not good is when man is alone. Your where God says it is not good for man to be alone.

And so God creates for him a helper. Power of more than 1. The power of more than theclusiaties expresses it as well. Ecclesiasties chapter 4, beginning in verse 9. Listen to, Ecclesiastes chapter 4, beginning in verse 9.

Listen to, Solomon again writes. 2 are better than 1, because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one who will I’m sorry. The one who will lift up his companion, but woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furter, if 2 lie down together, they keep warm.

But how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him, who is alone, 2 can resist him. A cord of 3 strands is not quickly torn apart. What is Solomon communicating again? There is something of great importance about this process of multiplication or more than in the new testament.

You can see it clearly in the importance of, the importance of multiples found within the context of the church. In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul addresses the church. And the fact that God has has knit us together as one body, but we’re find? There’s Jews and there’s Gentiles. There’s men.

There’s women. There are rich people, there are poor people, there are multicultural, there are multi ethnical, they’re young, they’re old. But one, multiple, but together. The concept of iron sharpening iron is The answer to that is no. It’s no by its nature, it can’t.

It needs something else to act upon. With believers, he anticipates for the, the coming together of our lives, the bringing together of our lives. Now, wait a second, pastor. My relationship with God is between me and God. So wait a second, pastor.

My relationship with God is between me and God. But you know who God uses oftentimes to sharpen us? One another. Yes, his word is a part of that process, but it happens in community one with another. He desires for us to build loving and growing relationships with others so that we can be sharpened.

One coming together, but there’s more than 1. And truth that I want you to notice from this passage is that we’re called Whenever we think about they’re an agitator, we think of it in a negative light. But when you think about an agitator in your washing machine, you don’t think of it as a negative thing, do you? No. You think of it as something that is in the process to be used to help clean your clothes.

It’s a good thing. To another, and begins to work together. That means that your presence in community isn’t enough, but your interaction within the community is everything. Left isolated, both blades will become dull. It’s when they come together and work together that the blades are sharpened.

So, it’s a We look at that process in a negative light, don’t we? We don’t we don’t like to be we don’t like to be rubbed real hard because that, oh, that can hurt, right? Filing away at our lives. And yet, Solomon seems to be communicating something to us. As we come together and we work together and we’re in we’re in connection one with another, there’s a process of working in our lives, accountability or a person inclination to allow a significant people in our lives to begin to look closely at our lives to examine us, point out our weakness.

Ouch. Why? So that those areas of weakness can be strengthened. Accountability is not just simply asking another believer, Philip Brown joined our family lot of you know, Philip Brown. Philip joined our family.

I can remember feeling very intimidated by I can remember feeling very intimidated. It didn’t seem like there was anything that you could ask him about the Bible or talk to him about the Bible that he didn’t know. And that was overwhelming. And there were times that he would he would ask me, so what what are you reading in the bible? Resistance, like, woah.

Because he wasn’t asking where in the bible are you reading? You know what he was asking? He was saying, how is the bible intersecting in your life? These were the unspoken words. How’s the bible intersecting in your life and how is your life being shaped by it?

What was he doing? He was bringing me in accountability to the word. One of the ways in which iron sharpens iron is, as we begin to ask one another, what is the word of God doing in your life, and how are you responding to? And how are you responding to and how are you responding to and how are you responding to and how are you responding to and how are you responding to and how are you responding to and how are you responding to and how are you responding to? Often times chafe at that process, don’t we?

We don’t want people to hold us to. Account a to be able to spend at will and do what they want it. Our lives are refined and reproved within the church. God intends that as we come together and accountability happens. Another.

To build relationships with one another. What’s one of my favorite sayings? You’ve heard it often. I need You know why? Because I need you to grind on my life as much as you need me to grind on your life.

I need your accountability in my life as much as you need my accountability in your life. Something? Anybody who doesn’t want accountability in your life, in their life, you can almost mark it down. There’s a problem in their life. I have watched I was just talking to I have watched I was just talking to somebody this last weekend.

I was talking to somebody about the importance of accountability in our lives. I have looked across across just the church world. And I’ve I’ve looked at some of these great and the ones who have failed. Do you know what’s consistent with of accountability in their of accountability in their lives. They removed everything that would cause somebody to be able to look at their life and say, what are you doing about?

You know, there’s one there’s one prominent Christian figure that I can think of, that I don’t know a single person that has ever been able to put a finger on their life. Have you ever heard anybody have something to say or question the integrity of Billy Graham? You know, one of the reasons that you don’t find, Billy Graham had accountability in his life all the way through. You know, he would not even get on an elevator with a woman unless somebody else was present with him. We oftentimes don’t like accountability in our lives, but that’s part of what I believe Solomon is saying in this passage of scripture.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. As as you and I are together in community and fellowship more than 1 interacting with one another, somebody can look at you and say, what are you doing about that? Somebody can look at you and say, what are you doing about that? We get really uncomfortable about that, don’t We get really uncomfortable about that, don’t we? I mentioned this a couple weeks ago.

I’m convinced that if we were to go back to our Methodist roots, many of us would not be real comfortable. To sit in on some of the class meetings as depressing questions came in, what were you tempted with this week, In what areas have you failed? What are you doing about this passage of scripture in your life? What attitudes have you had that are not consistent with the word of God? There’s another principle of importance I want you to consider.

When you and I think about the process of iron sharpening iron, we oftentimes have a modern concept of sharpening. That concept is as we think of a grinding wheel that is used and you take a blade and you work it across that grinding wheel. That’s not the process that Solomon probably had in mind. More than likely, what he had in mind was the process where a blacksmith would take a piece of steel, put it into the fire, began to glow cherry red. Take it out, put it on an anvil, take a hardened steel hammer and begin to pound on the edge of that.

And to work and shape You go up to Gatlinburg, and you can go to some of these forgeries, and you can watch a process. They put it in, and they bring it out, and they pound on it, and pound on it, and and it starts to cool down and they put it back in the fire. They bring it back out. They pound on it, pound on it, pound it. They put it back in.

They bring it out. They pound it. And how begins to be worn until it gets dull, until it no longer has the sharp edge and what needs to happen. It needs to be brought back to a place where it’s being refined. This is what I would call the importance of the process or the principle of longevity.

The process of our being in community is not just momentary, but it is it is a pursuit of a process that we work in community one with another so that our lives can be shaped and molded and formed into the image. And Blacksmith sharpened that piece of steel and gave it away to the person who had brought it in. They would use it for a period of time until it had to be brought back and resharpened. And the same thing is true about you and I. It’s a process of working together Lord.

Throughout life, God wants for us to allow relationships in our lives to work, to refine us, and reprove us. Sometimes that that comes from friends. I’ve had that on I’ve had that on numerous occasions. One of the things that I love about going to our men’s breakfast, occasionally, we’ll start talking about things. And before long, as we talk about those things, boy, it just really begins to work in our lives.

It begins to work in my life. Then there are I’m concerned, and then there are see some things that that concern me. What’s our nature, and why could you be so judgmental to speak to me that way? To speak to me that way? Let me tell you something.

You ought to value friends that will speak truth to you even when it hurts. Because there are times that people may see things in my life that I need people to speak truth to me when it hurts. Because there are times that people may see things in my life that I need people to speak truth to me when it hurts. Because there are times that people may see things in my life and I may see things in your life that we mess. We we don’t recognize.

I need relationships of people who are not afraid this last week in. It was down at hope, sound for the alumni, homecoming. There were 2 men that were honored as a part of the Friday night service, Doctor Cliff Churchill, that would be Paul Churchill’s brother. My uncle John Jones was was the other one. If you know Dan Stettler, who was president of Hope Sound for 27 years at all, you know that Dan Stettler was a very, very strong personality.

We’ve got some Stettlers with us. Kendall’s his nephew. Kendall can tell you, Dan Stettler was a strong person. And he was not afraid to speak his opinion. Told the story.

He said he said there, there were some ladies that wanted to meet with him and they had a, some sort of a grievance or something that they felt that needed to be addressed they came in and shared. My uncle John was a part of that. And he said, I just blasted back. Boy, this is what we need to do. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And he said, I turned to John Jones and said, don’t you agree yeah. And he said, I turned to John Jones and said, don’t you agree. And No, I don’t agree with you. He said, I needed somebody in my life who could stand up to me and say, you’re wrong. You know, there are times, Church, that you and I need people who love us enough to say what you’re doing is You’re not living this out in your life.

Does it hurt? Sure. It hurts. Sometimes that that can be really emotionally painful in our lives. You know, there are times that the criticism that comes doesn’t come from friends either.

Sometimes it comes from people who mean harm. You and I both have had that happen as well. You know, what I found is there are times when people have come with critical criticism. It’s really easy to just bow up and say, I won’t tell you what came to my mind. Yes, it will.

Children, shut your ears. You want to say, shut up. All you want to do is just yap, yap, yap, and you don’t really have anything. And we just want to push it off, don’t we? And we just want to push it off.

Don’t we? There are times that people who are critical in their criticism, we want to resist it. You know what I’ve discovered? Yeah. There are times that I’ve had people that have been really harsh towards me, and I want to just bow up and then I stop and say, no, wait a second.

Before I just throw it away, is there truth? What do I need to hear from this? Yeah. Sure. Maybe it’s painful.

Maybe there’s a there’s a sense in which I just I wanna I wanna retaliate, but is there truth here? Do I need to hear this? If I need to hear it, then Lord, let that truth work in me. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. In many ways, this process is similar to our relationship with God.

It’s the outworking need to be in union with God through Christ, fellowship one with another in the process of working together to refine our lives to shape us. I need and you need So tonight, we’re gonna come back together and say, how do we live this out? What does this look like in our lives? How do we how do we live this out? Because the process of this happening becomes the polishing work that helps to bring to us a reflection of the image of Christ.

Then let’s let the process of what the Lord wants to do in us work in us. Let’s stand together as we close in prayer. Father, thank you. For the power that our relationships, one with another, have to be able to make us what you want us to be. You have you have put your church together as a means of community to be together.

Lord, I need the refining work of my friends and I need the refining work even of my enemies to work in my life to reflect you and to sharpen my spiritual life to be what you want it to be. Power of in our lives that you would accomplish your work. And through these series of messages and our time together over the next couple weeks that our spiritual lives will be strengthened in you, that we would hold ourselves and hold each other in accountability to your word and jesus, name, watch over as we go from here. May you be glorified through our lives. We pray in Jesus name.

Amen. The Lord bless you. The Lord bless you. Amen. The Lord bless you.

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