“Your hair!” Amanda exclaimed. “What has happened to your hair?”
I glanced in my rear view mirror and realized that whatever had happened to my hair had also happened to my glasses. No wonder everything had seemed s0 blurry on the way to Birmingham this Sunday afternoon. Hugging my friend, Chaundra, at the altar that morning had obviously been more than about praying with her. I had been covered by more than her prayers. Her hair dressing had covered me, too!
What a blessing to be reminded that those that pray for us leave a part of themselves covering our lives! But Chaundra left more than just a part of herself on me that day at the altar! Her life impacts mine, and I pray that mine impacts hers. We pray to make a difference in each others' lives–for God to use us to bring out the best in each other. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Psalm 17:17, NLT).
How many times do we miss the opportunities God sends to invest our lives in others? Not only have we missed the chance to make a difference in their lives, but they have missed a chance to make a difference in ours. What is strong in me should be made stronger by contact with those God sends into my life. What I have needs to be tested to see what if it is worth. I need to know where I am weak so that I can allow the Lord to have control over that part of my life. My life should also be strong enough and courageous enough to address with loving concern those things that should be addressed. “Speaking the truth” in love has the greatest power to make a difference when spoken to another who is strong enough to receive it. When the psalmist writes that “iron sharpens iron” he does not write of strength that is not teachable. True strength is teachable and responds to the “iron” which is brought to bear upon its life. I should receive with a teachable spirit that which I give out because God is using my friend to sharpen my life for His purpose.
Who has God brought into your life to strengthen you? Who has He brought for you to encourage to become stronger? Most often it is a friend because a friend will seek out another friend. When your friend shares his heart, he has trusted you enough to make himself vulnerable to what you think of him. If your friend comes to you seeking advice, pray for God's wisdom and always extend the grace of honesty without judging him. If you are a loving friend, and not a “Job” friend, you will know that you don't have all the answers, but you will carefully listen. If the Holy Spirit gives you insight, you will only offer that insight, and not place any expectation upon your friend. You make a suggestion, and also make it clear that you love him no matter what–that you do not have all the answers. God extends free will to us, and we must do the same. We can't demand anything of anyone, but we can love completely with His love that sees potential without passing judgment.
If you friend comes to you “speaking the truth in love”, listen with the love of Jesus in your heart. Realize that what you hear might not be pleasant to your ears, but it also might be necessary to make a difference in your life. Do not take it as a judgment of your character. Listen to what your friend says and ask for the Lord to reveal if it is something that needs to be addressed. Yes, there may be “emotional” feelings of hurt at first, but take the time and pray about what has been said to you. God will use it to make a difference in your life. The advice will either inspire you to change something in your life or teach you how to respond without hurt to advice which, though not applicable, has been offered in love.
This is the “iron” of Calvary–His love that makes a difference–the iron that sharpens iron. I pray that what is strong in the lives of my friends always sharpens me, and that my life always brings out the best in theirs. Spiritual growth is “iron sharpening iron”. It is allowing my friend to rub off on me. So if you ever hear me say to Chaundra, “come grease me up good”, what I am saying is come and impact my life for His kingdom, and allow me to impact yours. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Psalm 27:17, NLT).