“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Proverbs 27:17 KJV
I almost named my blog “Iron sharpens iron”. It’s the second part of the scripture, however, which holds so much power.
“So a friend sharpens the countenance of his friend”... What does that even mean? I always assumed it meant firm beliefs are shared between friends respectfully, openly discussed and in so, strengthening one’s beliefs, or helping each other see a missing link. Nope. I am admitting publicly that is not what it means, and I was way off. I am so glad I meditated on this verse today and did a little research of my own.
God is calling us to sharpen the countenance of the friend. Friend does not mean person we hangout with. From what I understand, it means people you come in contact with repetitively, such as family members, co-workers, neighbors, classmates, your acquaintances, people you hang out with, a group of people you do life with. You get it, right?
Now that we have established who God is calling us to sharpen, what does countenance really mean? More specifically, what is the countenance of your friend? The Hebrew definition of countenance means the emotional reflection of the heart represented on the face. So the countenance of our friend means our friend’s emotional facial expression when it is a reflection of their heart. This knowledge really forced me to reflect. Does everyone in my life show me the reflection of their heart through their facial reflection? No. Some hide it for many different reasons. However, some do. When they do share this countenance with me, what should I do? Last night a family member of mine looked sad. When I asked her what was wrong, she shared something with me she is struggling with. She asked me to cover her in prayer her, so I did!
What does it mean to sharpen your friend’s countenance? I believe it means to give hope to what we are dealing with. I do not have the power to give someone hope by myself. I need God to lead me in reminding my friends of His promises from His word. I need to invite Him to do a work in my friend’s life by praying over my friend in that moment. In being obedient to the call in Proverbs 27:17, I am acting as the body of Christ, planting a seed of hope which will sharpen the countenance of my friend. This is definitely not an easy call. It can be uncomfortable to quote scripture. I can not be the only one who feels that way. I don’t always say it just right. I may take it out of context. I may not know the book or verse it came from. How about asking someone if you can pray with them? That is definitely out of my comfort zone, too. Praying out loud and in front of/for my friend? Wow! Remember when I stated above that a friend is someone you come in contact with repetitively? So... even your boss? Yes. Even the co-worker who you are intimidated by? Yes... even her. Even _________? Yes! EVEN THAT PERSON! If they show you they are struggling, you are called to sharpen their countenance. Yes, it may be uncomfortable, but you know what... you are being obedient. I encourage you to step out in faith, out of your comfort zone, and invite God to do a mighty work in your friend’s life. Plant that seed of hope!
Today, I realized at work how hard it is to evaluate my co-workers’ countenance when we have masks on all day long. Don’t get mad at me. Wait before you attack! Hear me out. I know we need to wear them for preventative health measures and I wear it, okay? BUT when I can’t see their smile or frown... when I can’t see if their lip is trembling, I must look into their eyes. It is harder to know when they are struggling. I have to trust that their eyes will say it all. I understand eye contact can be uncomfortable for some people, but during the COVID-19 mask mandate I urge you to look into your friends’ eyes. Check in on them. Now, more than ever before they need you to be willing to reignite their hope!
Do not be fearful. Do not be dismayed. Do not hide. Start small, but START. When we know better, we do better. Now, we know!
God won’t ask us, if He hasn’t equipped us. SHARPEN the COUNTENANCE of your friend!