I've read and heard the scripture at Proverbs 27:17 a million times where it talks about 'iron sharpening iron'. It wasn't until recently though that something made me sit and think a little more on what it meant (in general and for me). What I learned from this one scripture about how I should be controlling my environment was SO good! To understand that, you need to understand the scripture a little more first.
In my research I was shocked at how much I didn't know about this scripture. I, like Sharon (quoted below) initially had the same idea: two knives skimming across each other like Gordon Ramsay does it on his TV shows. In reality though, it was rare that iron was ever used to sharpen iron because there were other tools to do the job. Except for in one case- a metal file. A file checks all the boxes of what's needed to improve the blade but was so far away from what I had envisioned. This small change had my mind blown! Sharon wrote about it so beautifully below 👇🏼 ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ "Whenever I used to read Proverbs 27:17 I had never imagined a metal file. Instead I pictured two blades sheering across one another to produce ever increasing sharpness. To be more precise, I pictured one of those Japanese steakhouse chefs clanging his knives before cutting a shrimp tail in mid air. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In reality, two blades cannot sharpen one another. At least, not very well. The only way to sharpen an iron blade is to use a tool with a different edge or texture, and that is an important point. Although Christians often emphasize the “like iron” part of this verse–meaning two similarly strong Christians–this verse does not promote uniformity. If a blade is sharpened by resistance, then a similarly smooth blade has little to offer. The iron that sharpens iron must be an entirely different tool. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Knowing this, Proverbs 27:17 encourages me to surround myself with strong Christians who can sharpen me, as well as those who are different enough to shape me by means of friction.
That is to say, I need friends whose wisdom, whose willingness to say difficult things, or whose different perspectives will provide the grit with which God can sand my dull edges." @sharonhmiller
I know right?! So good! The hardships, the people who challenge you, the ones who make you work harder...these are the
people you need in order to become sharpened.
We spend so much time in this personal development work talking about "controlling our environment" and making sure we are in the right place to grow. Some misunderstand that to mean they should just remove people from their lives who challenge them and surround themselves with 'yes-men'. (Clearly they would never admit this, but...you know)
Think of an actual flower that NEEDS water and sunlight to grow. That means that at times it's going to get wet and at times it going to be hot but having both of those things is what allows it to blossom.
How many people in your life are willing to make things a little 'hot' through challenging your ideas, beliefs and forcing you to stretch your mindset? How many people in your life water you by means of filling your cup back up and ensuring you too are taken care of?
Controlling your environment does not mean surrounding yourself with people like you, it means making sure you are surrounded by those who want you to be your best. And this my friend, is not always comfortable BUT it will keep you sharp.