“Iron sharpening iron” is a biblical concept (Proverbs 27:17) that mainstream society has seized hold of. In fact, the lead-in promo for the NBA All-Star game used this very quote in hyping up the game pitting league superstars against one another in the annual event. It is a verse that is known and used in businesses, leagues, retreats, military endeavors, and beyond.
But the thing about iron sharpening iron is that it is easier to say than to do. We like the sound of it–sure we do! We end up as a better version of ourselves or our friends do–it is great! But if you look at the process of actual iron being sharpened, it is painfully violent. There is intense heat and pressure and repeated slamming against one another. Chiseling out a more faithful, virtuous, loving, compassionate, or whatever else version of yourself is cruel tough work had through dependency on God, on dear friends, and on blow-by-blow accountability. Honestly, if I were to draft a modern image of it, it may just look something like the video below (with the end being an essential part).
WARNING: The video included in this post is violent in nature. If you think it might offend you or harm your sensibilities, don’t watch it! (If missing out on the video you can’t watch offends you or harms your sensibilities, I’ll explain the video to you. If having to have the video explained to you offends you or harms your sensibilities, you might be the type of person who is difficult to sit next to during a dinner party.)