Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
There is a subject that recurs in this chapter: friends. Every time I read about friendship in the Bible, I can’t help but think of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The angel said no man is poor who has friends. In a spiritual way, we’re talking about true friendship. I had some good friends in school. Most of us were lost but I had a few Christian friends. They were better to me than I was to them. One girl who sat near me because of our last names was a real witness to me. She talked about the Lord and it convicted me of sin. I could count on her prayers. She’s still serving the Lord today. I shied away from Christians but I looked up to them. She made Christian character a real testimony. Those I went to school with weren’t snooty. They were friends to us, just as nice and good to us as they could be. They didn’t act better than us because they were Christians and we weren’t. Friendship takes love and faith and trust in others. It’s built on this. There has to be affection. It’s not romantic but likeness and commonality. Just as we carry on with our natural brothers and sisters, we can do that with friends.
What makes a church strong? What’s vital to church growth and success? It’s fellowship. Adherence to scripture and the faith? Yes! But without love it is as dead as 4:00. I’ve been in churches where people never shake each other’s hands. They don’t even know the people beside them. Paul said that without love we are nothing but a clang, a noise–sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. Fellowship means we get along. We’re on the same level and have a common bond. We have a sense of family and brotherhood. For real fellowship there has to be real friendship. Every child of God ought to be friends with each other. Everyone should be in fellowship with each other. Our fellowship with God is determined by our fellowship with others. The Bible asks how can we say we love God whom we haven’t seen if we don’t love our brother whom we have?
We build friendships. We’re not separated into groups. When people gravitate into groups it causes division. God help us to grow out of that. The devil wants to cause division to tear God’s people down. We can value each other in Christian friendship. There is no reason we cannot do it. If there is a conflict, the Bible says we are to go to that person and make it right before we make our offering on the altar to God. Jesus calls us friends. He called his disciples friends even though he knew that in a short time they would deny him. We can’t look at others and say that we cannot be friends. How can we do it? We’re Christians. That is enough to say. Without fellowship there can be no friendship. Without friendship there can be no fellowship. It involves everyone, not just a few to a few. As God’s people we have to be friends to all. We diminish the church by our lack of love. Faith works by love. Everyone to everyone. For me to be a help and blessing is more than filling a pew. Be as much a friend to one as you are to others. We can sure sleep better at night. We are to put no restrictions and conditions like “as long as you’re a friend to me, I’ll be a friend to you.” I don’t care if someone spits in our face, we are still to be a friend to them. We do this for Jesus’ sake. Without God’s help we can’t do it but with his help we can!
Study Chapter 27 closely and we’ll finish it up next week. Friendship is how iron sharpens iron. Other metals can be sharpened in various ways but only iron can sharpen iron.