Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Most of us would love to be more confident to say that true but difficult thing, or to be more open about the difference Jesus makes in our lives. But how do we get that kind of confidence?
The thing is, the cultural air we breathe shapes the way we go about pursuing it. Our go-to method will be a method. It might be using some kind of positive visualisation technique, breathing in a particular way, repeating a word or phrase, getting in shape, or striking power poses in a toilet cubicle. And whatever method we employ, we do it alone – particularly that last one.
Is it possible that in our individualistic, technique-driven culture, our growth in character and confidence is hindered because we are missing a key ingredient: community?
The pattern for growth laid down in Scripture is unapologetically relational.
At the heart of the proverb about iron sharpening iron lies a simple, yet profound, truth. There is no such thing as a self-sharpening sword. For the blade to maintain its cutting edge, it requires the presence – and close presence at that – of something equally tough. Good friends, friends who are honest and genuinely want to help us grow, are essential if we are to become more than we otherwise might be.
Or take what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. They had questions and challenges coming at them from all angles. Like us, they were living ‘between the times’ – between the in-breaking of God’s kingdom and the ultimate return of Christ. How could they be confident disciples in the face of suffering, ambiguity, and death?
It’s interesting that Paul gives them great theology in 4:13–5:10 – yet he doesn’t see the theology as enough by itself. He rounds off his reassuring explanation about salvation and Jesus’ return by exhorting them to ‘encourage one another and build each other up’. Knowing the right stuff wasn’t enough by itself– they needed each other.
In your pursuit of godly confidence, don’t go it alone. Sure, there are techniques and practices that will definitely help you, but you need people too – and they need you! Maybe that looks like a prayer partnership or triplet you meet with regularly, which could also include messaging each other during the day with encouragements and prayer requests. What existing Christian relationships might God be calling you to deepen? Or what not-yet-in-existence relationships might he be calling you to develop?
Church Team – Research & Development, LICC
What relationship will you grow, as you go out onto your frontlines this week? Join the conversation in the comments below.