“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)
In the scriptures, there are verses and passages that are smooth and gentle — but this is not one of them.
In our kitchen are knives that I sharpen before each use; they don’t work well otherwise. The act of sharpening the edge requires metal on metal, and at the end of it, neither the sharpening steel nor the knife are the same. The former fulfills purpose in the process, and sacrifices tiny filings of itself; the latter is made adequate for its tasks as it, too, sacrifices tiny filings of itself in the process.
There are people whose interactions with us are anything but smooth and gentle. Sometimes we avoid such situations. Sometimes we resent having allowed such situations to occur. Occasionally, we see beyond the irritation and the pain inherent in such interactions to a benefit that could not have occurred otherwise.
Know that God is at work in each of your daily interactions with others. Sometimes you are the knife; sometimes you are the sharpening steel. Each fulfills its purpose when placed in the hand of God. – Luther