Week of Monday, September  12 – Sunday, September 18
Sharpened - Man as Battle Buddy
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. - Proverbs 27:17 ESV
Guys, I have a confession to make. I have a weakness for a sharp, well-made knife. OK, let’s make that plural: knives. I’m like a kid in a candy store when I go into a knife shop. Consequently, I have quite the collection. Like tools, there are different knives for different purposes. My favorite knifemaker is Benchmade because their craftmanship is unparalleled, their blades are high quality, and their knives come out of the box sharp. A dull blade is of little use. In fact, I spend a fair amount of time sharpening my knives.
Solomon famously spoke in Proverbs about men needing to sharpen one another as “iron sharpens iron.” This analogy was easily relatable to the average guy in ancient Israel. One piece of iron was used to sharpen another piece of iron until both became more effective tools or weapons. This commonplace visual aid of sharpening an implement of work or weapon of war provides us a practical model for the battle buddy relationship.
First, battle buddies must spend time with one another. “Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away” (Prov. 27:10b). The first negative statement in the Bible is about man being alone (see Gen. 2:18). Alone is not good. Left alone, both iron blades remain dull and useless. So it is with men. We are better when in fellowship with each other. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT) explains this principle well:
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Alone we are vulnerable. Together, we can be unbeatable. We must form edifying relationships and remain in close fellowship with other men. Like iron on iron, it is life on life.
Second, battle buddies must not only maintain close fellowship with one another but also work in focused cooperation to achieve the desired edifying result. With iron, the desired result is sharpness; with men, it is usefulness, effectiveness, success. Sharpening won’t happen magically on its own. There must be purpose and direction to the time battle buddies spend together. When there is that intentionality, one man can be used by God to help the other man become a better version of himself, and vice versa. The implication is that the relationship is not only intentional but mutually beneficial in making each battle buddy more Christ-like.
My battle buddy Stu Weber explains the iron-sharpens-iron concept in the lives of men. Every sharpening relationship needs four things:
1. Acceptance: men need to agree to entering into battle buddy friendships with other men.
2. Affirmation: men need to affirm one another other.
3. Accountability: men need to ask the hard questions and tell the truth to one another. There is another proverb from this same chapter that makes the point: “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:5–6).
4. Authority: men need to give those they are fellowshipping with the authority to step in to help them become better men.
Acceptance, affirmation, accountability, and authority applied simultaneously will make both battle buddies better men—iron sharpening iron.
- Do you have in your life a guy friend who is walking with God who could become your battle buddy? A man you respect who could be that “iron sharpening” partner?
- If so, is your time spent together intentional and not just “hanging out?” Develop a gameplan so that there can be more purpose and direction, such as taking the book Man to Man and studying it together.
- Ask God to direct you in this quest of getting with a battle buddy so that “iron sharpens iron.”