Tag Archives: God’s grace

“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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“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?'”  (John 21:15, NIV)

(This is a complex passage of scripture because its few words carry a number of number of applications.  Today, we look at a third possible application.)

Today’s application returns to Peter’s loud and public boast that he would never, never, ever, ever desert Jesus; that he would “lay down his life” for Jesus.  (John 13:36-38)

This was Peter’s ambition, and it was a noble one.  In the verses that follow John 21:15, Peter’s ambition to love Jesus without condition is affirmed, and he is told that, yes, he will “lay down his life” for his Lord.

God is faithful to give us the desires of our heart, but He does not just give us what we desire; He first prepares us to both receive and to employ the gift.

We ask God for patience.  It is a noble request (and most of us would certainly do well to be more patient).  But do we despise the process that leads to patience — which, according to scripture, includes suffering, trouble, and pain? (See Romans 5:3)

We ask God to be made holy.  It is a noble request (and most of us would certainly do well to be more holy — which is to say, more like God and less like our dysfunctional world).  But do we despise the process that leads to holiness?  Do we gripe about the silence, and curse the solitude that is necessary to shape us into a woman or man who — like God — cannot be bossed; and cannot be bought?

As a child of God, our heavenly Father is delighted to give us the gifts that reflect the desires of our heart.  Like the wise father who gives the keys to the family car to his child only after the child is properly educated, trained, and licensed to operate the vehicle; our heavenly Father first makes us ready for the gifts we desire.  – Luther

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