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Who you sharpening?

Have you ever noticed the closer someone becomes to you, to better you see their issues and vice-versa? What happens is something we call "intimacy" - the forming of deep, personal bonds which helps us to connect on a very deep plane in relationships.  It is not the "physical" type of intimacy I am referring to here, but the intimacy of heart, mind, and spirit two share when they finally get close enough to form this bond.  Not only do we see each other's issues, but we see the beauty of an individual's heart, the frailty of their emotions which have been set on edge by others around them, and the tenacity of spirit which keeps them moving forward when things get tough.  This "bond" between two grows stronger the more we begin to understand the uniqueness of each in the relationship - those unique qualities are what probably drew you together in the first place.  Some think it is the similarities we share, but I think it might just be those things which make someone uniquely who they are which draw us the most - because we NEED those to bring balance to our own life.  

Good people take advice from their friends, but an evil person is easily led to do wrong.  (Proverbs 12:26 NCV)

Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (Proverbs 18:24 MSG)

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.  (Proverbs 27:9 MSG)

You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 MSG)

The close intimate friendship you form with another is actually what may keep you from pursuing what is wrong for your life.  In many circumstances, they are actually like a "second-check" for your conscience.  This is why forming the "right" relationships can be so important.  When we align with those who encourage our growth, challenge our depth of relationship with Jesus, and care enough to point us in the right direction, we are actually blessed with a powerful "weapon" in our arsenal against sin in our lives.  Our friend becomes another "tool" to help us maintain balance and to keep us from taking steps in the wrong direction.

A close friend differs from those we just have acquaintance with - one shares a bond, the other just an awareness; one shares a history, the other just shares moments.  It is often the "history" which helps the bond to grow.  I have a little sign in my office which reads:  "You will always be my friend - you know too much!"  I think it speaks directly to my point - friends get to know our "history" and they aren't dissuaded, disturbed, or disillusioned when they get to know it!  Let me just say, we need these deep relationships to sometimes help us work out the stuff no one else really knows about us.  

Friends have a certain "sticking" factor - but the degree of "stickiness" is determined by the depth of the relationship.  I have bought "knock off" sticky notes - those little pieces of note paper with the already gooey little strip at the top edge which allows you to place a note almost anywhere in a hurry.  I have also bought the original 3M brand.  Something I realized over the course of time - the "stickiness" of one outlasts the other!  The "generic" ones might be nice looking, even containing clever little sayings, but their "stickiness" just doesn't live up to the 3M brand of "sticky-note".  There is something in the "glue" which gives them "better" sticking power.  Let me just say, some friends have better "sticking power" than others.  Finding one who actually sticks with you through thick and thin, the good and the bad - now that is a find!

If you know a "true friend", you understand how they "refresh" your soul. The soul is the inner part of man which is made up of the personality, emotions, will, and spirituality.  It is the place of "connection" we want to guard almost as much as guard the heart.  My emotions get raw from the pressures of life - I need the "refreshing" of good friendship to help me get balance once again and to feel the uneasy or unhealthy emotions begin to melt away as they are replaced with the steady and uplifting emotions of a peaceful heart and a centered spirit.  My will can become stubborn and rebellious - I long for the "refreshing" of a friend bringing correction and encouragement when the choices I am about to make are not going to turn out well for me.  My personality "quirks" can override my good judgment on occasions - a good friend helps me get ahead of the "quirks" so I don't make mistakes I will pay for dearly.

Yep, a deep friendship goes beyond the surface - it gets at the "grain" of what we are.  Iron sharpens iron - one pass of the "iron" of a close friend forever changes the course of your life.  Allowing that friend to "pass over" your life time and again results in a "sharpness" you'd have lacked if that passing had not occurred.  Just sayin!

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