Sunday, April 8, 2018

How sharp are you?

A dull ax requires great strength; be wise and sharpen the blade. (Ecclesiastes 10:10 TLB)

I am a stickler about using a good sharp knife when I am prepping meals. I don't like to 'hack thru' food items, but prefer that very clean, swift cut while prepping. The desire for a sharp knife means I have to frequently sharpen the blade to keep the 'edge' in the condition I like. In so doing, I actually shorten the length of time it takes to prep. I have had some knives that just don't hold their edge, no matter how much effort I put into sharpening them. Those knives don't get used much in my house, simply because they increase effort! The same attention should be paid to remaining 'sharp' when it comes to my mind, emotions, and spiritual condition!

Just as with the care and treatment of my knives, there needs to be special effort put into maintaining a 'sharp edge' in our spiritual lives. If you find your 'sharpening' has increased in frequency you might ask if the 'edge' being sharpened is really 'taking the sharpening'! As with some of those softer blade knives that don't hold the edge I attempt to put on them, our spiritual lives can get a little 'soft' at times. We might spend a lot more effort trying to 'maintain the edge', but the 'material' we are sharpening isn't going to 'hold it'. 

If you consider what makes a knife durable and dependable, able to maintain the edge, most knife craftsmen will tell you it is a combination of hardness, toughness, the ability to hold up to wear or resistance, and what some call a "corrosion factor". If we take these same components and consider them in light of our spiritual lives, then it might translate something like this:

Hardness - are we engaging in the things that will help us avoid any "deformity" in our character when things like stress and external forces are applied to our daily tasks? If we want to avoid developing weak points on our 'edge' spiritually, we need to be sure we are adding things into the fabric of our lives that actually increase our strength to resist stress and external factors that oppose us, not ignoring them!

Toughness - similar to hardness, but a knife craftsman will tell you the toughness of the blade is the ability to not develop little pits, cracks, and chips along the edge of that blade. Where does the cutting really happen - on the edge. What do cracks, nicks, and chips do when found on the blade's edge - they snag up and make a mess. A chip in a knife's edge makes for much work to rectify it - creating undo friction, stress, and work!

Wear and Corrosion - the knife craftsman will tell you this is the ability to withstand damage - not really to avoid it. Abrasion happens when you cut with a blade. The wear-ability of the blade is in direct correlation to how well it can withstand that abrasiveness. Along that same line, as cuts are made with a blade, things are 'attracted' to the blade - the process of adherence. Corrosion happens when too much 'adherence' occurs, increasing friction, wearing the blade, and eventually dulling it significantly. There is much we can do to avoid both wear and corrosion in our spiritual lives, but both require attention to detail. Both of these factors are dependent upon the make up of the steel - what goes into the steel determines how the steal will withstand damage! Just sayin!