Iron Sharpens Iron

Though none of you had the opportunity to meet my grandpa, I have received many condolences from you over the past week, and my family and I appreciate the outpouring of kindness. Though he had been living with a particularly difficult cancer (esophageal) and since Christmas of this past year a esophageal stint that was uncomfortable, but necessary, he had the great blessing of dying peacefully and in the presence of my mother. I was my grandfather’s oldest grandchild, (one of eleven) and now my mom joins my dad in the experience of life without living parents.
L.F. Garrison earned a Purple Heart flying air missions as a belly gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress, and received a gunshot wound to the elbow that impaired the use of one arm for the rest of his life. I’ll never forget how he used to look throwing a baseball with that injured arm. At the funeral, Lara told me that she’d miss how it felt to get a hug from him. I will too. He was a Gideon and a searcher of the scriptures. In fact, only two weeks ago the cover fell off of my most used Bible, and I took Julianna with me to Target to pick up some “Duck Tape” that I could use to reattach the cover. I felt like I had joined my grandpa’s club, since his Bible had been worn out and bandaged together over the years. I was glad to have the opportunity to tell him about it before he died. Though if I had gone with Julianna’s choice, my duck tape would have been Pink with “Hello Kitty!” emblems.
My uncle told me that one of my grandpa’s favorite scriptures had been from Proverbs 27, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of a friend.” It is no surprise to me that my grandpa liked this particular scripture. How does iron sharpen iron, after all? By grating against it. My grandpa, and many other admirable saints, have a particular gift of “grating against others.” A couple weeks ago (when I last preached, actually) I lifted up Peter’s rebuke against Jesus as an example of this particular element of friendship. Too often, we think that the sole aim of friendship or love is to simply accept whatever others are dishing out. It isn’t nice or comfortable to “grate against” the other. Yet, if we are just soft and pliable “pine” for our friends and loved ones to cut and mold as they see fit, what use are we? Instead, God uses some of us, (and any of us, if we are willing) to “sharpen the countenance” of those around us. In order to do that, we’ve got to sometimes give resistance, grate against, and hold firm. When we do, sometimes sparks may fly, but when we are led by the Spirit to be such an instrument in the world, we will be its benefit.

1 Comment
  • Michael Mattox Posted 03/23/2012 2:27 am

    Well said, Nathan.

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