As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. [Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)]

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, [Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)]

plumariaIn ancient times, when an iron tool became dull, another iron implement was used to give it a finer polish and sharper edge. It’s not just tools that can become dulled—so can minds and spirits. Good Christian friends who act as whetstones can make us accountable, keener, stronger, and more enthusiastic and valuable. Rather than allowing us to grow dull and settled in our comfort zones, they sharpen us with challenges that make us better disciples for Christ.

The Greek word translated as spur in Hebrews 10:24 was paroksysmós. Often translated as motivate or stimulate, the NIV’s use of spur seems most accurate. Paroksysmós was a noun meaning a provocation which literally jabbed into someone so sharply they had to respond (as a spur does to a horse). As with a stubborn mule, sometimes we need to apply the spurs to get someone moving and, sometimes, we’re the stubborn ones who need that extra encouragement or motivation!

Whenever I read Proverbs 17:17 or Hebrews 10:24, I think of a special friend who both sharpened and spurred me! One of a small group receiving daily email devotions from me in 2014, she doggedly insisted that I have a devotional website. I didn’t claim to be the least qualified and from the weakest clan as did Gideon, but I came close by pointing out my lack of computer skills and religious training. Like Moses, I protested and offered several reasons why I wasn’t the woman for the job but she had an answer for every one of my objections! Then, instead of giving me Aaron as God did for Moses, she gave me her technical skill, designed the site, loaded several older devotions, and patiently walked me through the steps required to prepare photos, post devotions, and maintain the site. She sharpened and spurred me as a good Christian friend should!

Today marks my 2,073rd post on “Devotions of the Heart.” Staring with about 20 followers from my email group, I now have 576 followers. The site has been viewed over 48,500 times by over 28,700 people from 162 countries. That’s a drop in the bucket when it comes to celebrity influencers whose followers and views number in the millions but these devotions aren’t about numbers, fame, product endorsements, or me. They’re simply about sharing the Word of God and the only thing I endorse is Jesus! All the glory belongs to God but the thanks go to my iron-sharpening friend who wasn’t afraid to apply the spurs! Without her, you wouldn’t be reading this!

Friendship isn’t about what we get from it; it’s about how we serve God through it. My friend did what we all should do for our Christian brothers and sisters—she sharpened and spurred me by challenging, motivating, inspiring, helping, and encouraging me to become a better disciple for Christ. When iron is used to sharpen iron, both pieces improve and, by sharpening me, my friend sharpened herself, as well! Discipleship is not about maintaining the status quo—it’s about moving forward. Let us sharpen and spur on one another in Christian love.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. [1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)]

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. [2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV)]

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