As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
Sharpening implies the use of something abrasive. For most of us, that’s the last type of friend that we would choose. Nowadays, we want friends for fun, not for friction. Our sharpening process has been dulled. Rather than iron on iron, it’s more like Nerf on marshmallow. Friendship has lost its edge.
It’s not so much that we don’t want to hurt our friend’s feelings. It’s more that we just don’t want to deal with it. It was their choice. They chose that path. Now, they’re facing the consequences. But, we’re praying for them (not really). No wonder everyone needs Oprah for advice. Our friends are holding out on us.
I’m not saying that we all need to tell our friends off. But, we must realize that our politeness in friendship feels more like passivity. Oh well…
“But, who am I to tell someone else how they should live their lives?” Good question. Have you ever told someone to avoid a restaurant that had bad food or poor service? Have you ever recommended a good movie? An honest mechanic? A skilled carpenter? Are we the expert? No, but we’re sharing an experience.
We will speak to the miscellaneous matters of life, but we feel inadequate in addressing the significant matters of life. “That relationship is a train wreck.” “You are hanging by a thread at work.” “Do you have any idea how truly annoying you can be?” Think about the things that we say about our “friend” to our other friends. It’s not that we’re averse to spotting the issue or discussing it, we just don’t talk directly to them.
Maybe we don’t tell them what to do. Maybe we ask them what they’re doing. Maybe we help them see the outcome. “Is it me, or do you find yourself attracted to the same type of person? How will this be different than last time? Do you know the definition of insanity?” Okay, maybe not exactly like that.
While we may not feel the authority to speak to issues directly, Scripture certainly has the authority. But, isn’t that judging? It is, but you’re not the judge. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
What friend do you see headed down the wrong path (again)? Where do you need some support and encouragement? Pray about how to proceed. Then, pray for the right approach.
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