READ: Proverbs 27:17Job 15:4-6Job 2:11-13

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” {Proverbs 27:17}

People are messy. We are complicated, full of flaws and capable of inflicting some of the heaviest pains and deepest wounds. We carry baggage, scars and the preconceived notions of what friendships should and shouldn’t look like based on our own life experiences. Sometimes we love each other and sometimes we love to hate each other. The irony of it all: we need each other desperately. Life, without friends, is hard to navigate. We were created to be in relationship with each other.

Jesus himself was the master teacher on relationships and if we follow him throughout scripture, there is a relational strategy he left for us to follow. In fact, the Bible talks quite a bit about friendship. It’s designed to strengthen our relationship with Christ and affirm our identities as children of God.

Have you ever found yourself sitting across from someone with the following questions swimming in your head?

Can I trust you with this piece of my heart?

Can I invite you to speak into my life in the deep places?

Is this person for me or for themselves?

A friend is someone who sharpens you and helps shape you. Some translations say “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of another.”

You’ve seen the Pinterest quote: Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle. I need the kind of friends who encourage me, see the best in me, challenge me and help to shift my perspective. At the end of the day, the friends who don’t speak truth, aren’t true friends. We need to hunt down the ones who tell us what we need to hear as opposed to what we want to hear. When the focus of the relationship is to recognize the influence and potential of others as well as our own, it works. Friendships that are focused on sharpening are friendships that grow God’s kingdom.

The point of sharpening a tool is to make it more effective for its purpose. When we stop sharpening, we stop becoming useful and productive. And we all know that dull tools can do more damage than good. Sometimes we sharpen and other times we seek to be sharpened.

“Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” { Proverbs 27:5-6 }

As friendships grow and deepen, we learn when to cut and when to heal. Click To Tweet

When to cut.

One of the most striking observations I take from reading Job is the dynamic of his relationships. Although there are differing opinions on their intentions and effectiveness, I respect their stance throughout most of the book. Job had friends who did not hesitate to offer honest feedback. On one day in particular, Job is experiencing one of the lowest moments of his life and reacts by bringing strong accusations against God. His friend, Eliphaz, replies:

“But you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God. Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you.” { Job 15:4-6 }

Yes, he said that. He saw pride and arrogance and called it out. Why? Because it was tearing Job further and further from God. It was a difficult conversation worth having if it brought him back to a right heart.

We must look for the ones that will love us enough to point out the things in our lives that hinder us from a thriving relationship with Jesus.

When to heal.

This requires us to know when to step up and when to back off.

When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. { Job 2:11-13 }

They didn’t come to give advice. They saw his pain and all they could do was be there for him. In that moment, it was all he needed. The mark of a friend is one who shows up. One that says, You’re hurting, I’m here.”

So who are your iron sharpen iron friends? It’s not just any substance that has the power to sharpen iron. In the same way, not just any person can sharpen you.

Immorality cannot sharpen integrity.

Fear cannot sharpen love.

Selfish gain cannot sharpen Jesus gain.

Let’s focus on the friends that take us by the hand and lead us to Jesus.

Believe it! Trust it! Live it!REFLECT:
  1. What area of your life would you like to improve? Can you think of a friend that can help sharpen you in that area?
  2. How do you receive honest feedback?
  3. Do you like the person you are when you are around your friends?

Lord, send me the friends that will keep my eyes fixed on you. Give me a heart of discernment to know when to open up and when to back off. Help me to speak life into the ones you surround me with and give me the boldness to love bravely with your truth.

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Kristin Bonin
Kristin Bonin
Hello! I’m Kristin Bonin: wife, mom, friend, speaker and writer. My name means “follower of Christ” and that’s pretty much who I am. Aside from being a sweet tea drinkin’, front porch sittin’, warm weather lovin’, southern girl (yes, we really do leave the “g’s” off at the end of words), I am also highly skilled at driving my kids to their extra-curricular activities, warming up pre-made food and asking Siri for help with homework. In the middle of my crazy, I somehow manage to find my Jesus and have learned to chase after Him while I’m also chasing the kids. I am a mom of girls and wife to my husband Chris, who is an avid runner and pun master. If time wasn’t a factor, I could read all day long and I am particularly fond of the Bible. Studying it and applying it is my heart and joy. You can find more about me at

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