“As Iron Sharpens Iron”
Written June 15, 2016 by Joe Cunningham
On a recent visit to Geneva, IL, I had the opportunity to meet with, Scott, a Christian brother and good friend.  It was an amazing time of
fellowship, that I had been longing for, for some time.

We met over lunch at a local restaurant.  We caught up on the events of our lives that had occurred since we last met six months
before.  We listened to each other and asked tough questions.  We prayed with each other.  We allowed the Holy Spirit to work in our
presence, emptying us of ourselves, and filling us with His glory.

I came away feeling recharged and renewed.  I realized how important these times of fellowship are to a believer.  We were never
intended to be “Lone Ranger” Christians.  We need the wisdom, the strength, the encouragement, the accountability, the rebuke, and
the love of a fellow believer.

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

We picture two soldiers preparing for battle.  Not enemies – friends.  They practice their swordsmanship relentlessly, knowing that this
brutal workout will make them better and stronger.  One strikes while the other blocks.  Sparks flying from the edge of their swords with
every impact.  It's the difference between life and death on the battlefield.  Their skills, and their swords become sharper.

They strike as hard as they can.  No holding back.  They know that the enemy will do the same.  It would do neither of them any good
to approach this halfheartedly.  They must make each other the best that they can be.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are in a spiritual battle.  We need to be prepared.

Paul warned the Ephesian Church, “A final word; Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  Put on all of God's armor so that you
will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.  For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil
rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
(Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT)

Too often we forget.  We come to faith in Christ.  We are baptized.  We go to church and small group studies.  We hang out with
Christian friends, and avoid non-Christians.  We have Christian bumper stickers on our cars, and we eat at Christian restaurants.  We
try to seal ourselves inside a little Christian bubble where we convince ourselves that we are safe and sound, waiting for the return of
our Savior.  

We are not safe, and we know it.  We will never be free of the power of temptation in our lives.  We need to be prepared or we will most
assuredly fall into sin.

In the first century, there was no greater fighting force on the battlefield, than two veteran Roman Swordsman standing back to back.  
They were nearly impenetrable, and the enemy knew it.  They fought as one, each trusting his life so completely to the other that they
needn
't be concerned of what was behind them.  They focused on what was ahead.  Nothing could get past them.

They were brothers in arms.  They trained together, they ate together.  They were vested in each others lives.  They kept each other
in top condition – physically, mentally, emotionally.  Their lives on the battlefield depended on it.

Meeting with Scott reminded me how important it is to have someone like this in my life.  We need someone that knows us at our core,
that we trust with our deepest secrets, and that is not afraid to say, “Stop that right now, Bro!  You are on the wrong path and you know
it!”  Someone who can rebuke you with God's wisdom, and love you with Christ's love.  Someone who is with you in the battle, and
trusts you as much as you trust them.

Paul continued, “Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil.  Then after the
battle, you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness.  For
shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the
shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word
of God. (Ephesians 6:13-17 NLT)

Before they went to battle, each member of the team checked the other making sure the shoes were securely tied, the tunic was above
the knees and the belt is tight.  The body armor secured and the helmet in place.  They made sure that the shield was ready and that
the sword was sharp.

Scott has been walking with the Lord for 29 years – Me, 14 years.  Both veterans.  Both still focused on what's ahead, and at the same
time, both understanding how important it is to have someone at your back.  He is my big brother in Christ, and the one that I will go to
battle with.  We keep each other accountable to be in the Word everyday – it is the sword of the Spirit.

If you don't have a Scott or a Joe in your life, find one.  “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)  Pray
about it, get connected in a church, and let the Spirit guide you to the right person.  

We men, especially, need an accountability partner.  It is our nature to protect those around us by minimizing the trials that we face
everyday.  We need someone that is vested in our lives, that has the courage to call us out, and set us straight when we can't admit
that we are on the wrong path.  We need someone that can say the things that need to be said, hold us accountable to the promises
we made, and guide us with God's wisdom.  And, we need to do the same for them.

Our heavenly Father deserves our best.

God Bless you all,

Joe