“Iron Sharpens Iron, and one man sharpens another” – Proverbs 27:17 (ESV)
I once had a colleague in ministry say to me that the church should be a shelter for those who are weary of sinners; a place where they can come to in order to get away from those people. That perspective on the Christian life is what Andrew Stoddard is speaking out against here. It is a sort of elitism which is blind to our own weaknesses. It celebrates our good works as if they were our own and only associates with those who are elite. However, as Stoddard points out,
“What happens when you don’t feel like iron? What happens to those who aren’t iron enough to begin with? And what happens to you when you aren’t performing at an iron level?”
Perhaps this is where the Christian life and sport diverge? While I am deeply indebted to the way those coaches and leaders invested in me, I fear that the “just work harder, just dig deeper” mentality common to most athletic psyches may fail us in life off the pitch.
I get what Andrew Stoddard is saying here. Sometimes we are so caught up with surrounding ourselves with the mature Christians that we forget to come a long side of the weak or struggling. However, I can’t help but wonder why both are not possible. Perhaps this is what he left unstated and perhaps because the answer is obvious.
We must surround ourselves with those who will sharpen us and at the same time, show an enormous amount of grace to those who are struggling and who are sincere in their faith. We must not become so prideful that we forget that we are sinners ourselves; and yet we must also consider how to provoke one another unto love and good works.
This is what being the Body is all about. It isn’t about gathering with the unstained in order to keep ourselves unstained. It is about being willing to wait patiently for those who are lagging behind and offer them hope by pointing them to the gospel. The problem however, is that we are prideful. We inevitably revert back to law keeping in order to provoke the one who is struggling not realizing that we are leading them to an impotent solution. The Biblical example by contrast is not to point the weak and struggling to the law, but to the gospel. Read, When Iron Doesn’t Sharpen Iron | LIBERATE.
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