Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. ESV Proverbs 27:17
I’m blessed to serve in my church with a fantastic group of fellow elders. We come from various perspectives, yet are deeply committed to following Jesus ourselves and to encouraging each other to follow the Lord Jesus. The other night in our meeting, we got into some heavy stuff. First, due to some of the circumstances we were discussing, we shared our weaknesses and some of the things that could lead us to moral failure. Not many men I know would freely share such weaknesses with other men. Later, we discussed some controversial doctrinal views and realized we had varied beliefs. We had our Bibles open and were working to convince one another of our views.
After we left, I reflected on our meeting. Instead of any of us digging into our positions, it seemed all of us modulated a bit as we listened to and interacted with each other. When we shared our weaknesses, others proposed solutions to protect us in those areas (and offered accountability there as well). I came away from the meeting a better man than when I entered. God designed this. He created us to be in community with others, especially in our spiritual formation. We simply cannot grow if we are not around others who challenge our beliefs and push us closer to the Lord Jesus. These conversations are not always easy. Iron is only sharpened when it is heated significantly and then repeatedly struck with another iron object. We change slowly, often in painful ways through conflict of sorts with those who love us the most. However, the end result leaves us much better off than we began.
Do you have such friends in your life? Are there people who constantly challenge your beliefs? Who holds you accountable? What friends do you have to whom you can admit your weaknesses and they will subsequently have your back? You should find this in your church. Yes, you may have to look for it, you may have to work for it (these kind of relationships take time to develop). If you don’t have this, you really should panic. Do whatever it takes to begin to build strong relationships with fellow believers. No man is an island, so don’t think you can do your spiritual formation alone.