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“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 isn’t 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

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“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:6-8, NIV)

God’s love for all of us is unconditional — particularly those who have no use for God.

The noted German pastor, Martin Niemoller (1982-1984) said: “It took me a long time to learn that God is not the enemy of my enemies.  He is not even the enemy of His enemies.”  The enemies of Niemoller’s reference were the Nazis.  While he had good reason to hate Hitler and his ilk, Niemoller knew that for Christ’s sake, he had no excuse.

We must take to heart that if God chooses reconciliation with His enemies, we, too, must choose reconciliation with both our enemies, and the enemies of God.

Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians is a pointed reminder of God’s love for all persons; and our obligation to follow our heavenly Father’s example.  – Luther

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