Proverbs 27: You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
I’ve visited several internet forums and have seen this proverb quoted once in a while. Sometimes it’s used in an appropriate way and other times it is just an excuse for arguing. Having been raised in the church I’ve seen people banging one another on the head with their Bibles enough to know that all religious debate is not “sharpening.” In fact, bludgeoning someone with Scripture probably is somewhat dulling. Often on the internet, debate consists of two stubborn people posturing and talking past one another. Of course, such arguments aren’t limited to the internet. For sharpening to take place the participants have to be willing to actually engage one another: “I already know what I think, but I want to understand what you think.” A real key here is the “friend” factor. I know that the word “friend” is missing from the original language, but I do think that the concept is assumed. A stranger only wants to win the debate. However, a friend cares more about me than he cares about proving himself right. It’s only in that kind of relationship that this proverb works. As I deal with some issue with a person who I know cares about me personally, I’m “sharpened.” Who knows, maybe he’s sharpened too.
Take Away: Friendship, mutual respect, open-mindedness – these are keys to having a “sharpening” disagreement.