My friend’s words stung. Trying to sleep, I battled to stop mulling over her pointed comments about my strong opinions. As I lay there, I asked for God’s wisdom and peace. Several weeks later, still concerned about the matter, I prayed, “I hurt, Lord, but show me where I need to change. Show me where she’s right.”
My friend had acted as God’s sandpaper in my life. My feelings felt rubbed raw, but I sensed that how I responded would lead to the building of my character—or not. My choice was to submit to the smoothing process, confessing my pride and stubborn stance. I sensed that my bumps and imperfections didn’t glorify the Lord.
King Solomon knew that life in community could be difficult, a theme he addressed in the book of Proverbs. In chapter 27, we see his wisdom applied to relationships. He likens the sharp words between friends as iron sharpening iron: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (v. 17), shaving off the rough edges in each other’s behavior. The process may bring about wounds, such as the hurt I felt from my friend’s words (see v. 6), but ultimately the Lord can use these words to help and encourage us to make needed changes in our attitude and behavior.
How might the Lord be smoothing out your rough edges for His glory?
Lord, this shaping process hurts, but I want to submit to the process. Mold me and smooth me.
The Lord allows our rough edges to be smoothed over through the sandpaper of life.
The book of Proverbs has much to say about relationships (10:12; 16:28; 17:9–10; 18:24) and the importance of godly friends (12:26; 13:20; 14:7; 20:19; 22:5, 24–25; 24:1–2). In today’s passage Solomon extols the value of having a true friend (27:5–6, 9–10, 17). Trustworthy friends are those who love enough to confront and provide correction; they are not afraid to offer a painful rebuke in order to protect you from harm (vv. 5–6). Their heartfelt and honest counsel is welcomed like the delightful aromas of perfumes and incense (v. 9). A true friend is one who makes you a better person (v. 17).