Iron Sharpens Iron
Given during the summer of 2015 at Rocheport
Ben, Age 25
Proverbs 27:17, Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens the width of another. The word “width” may be another word in some versions, but basically, it is saying that we sharpen each other. It is a very literal “iron sharpening iron.” It’s all somatic—meaning “of or relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind”—the concept of sharpening each other.
This made me think of the study of geology in which you learn something call the Mohs scale of hardness. It basically shows how the hardness of a material can scratch softer materials. Softer materials cannot scratch harder materials. So, you won’t have limestone scratching a diamond. You cannot sharpen diamond with anything softer than a diamond. Just keep that in your mind as you read through this.
Proverbs 1:5, Let the wise also hear and gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill. So, a person can increase in learning by speaking to others more wise than himself. I am not going to gain much knowledge by learning from someone at a lower learning level than where I am. Your mind is not sharpened, and knowledge is not gained, by interacting with others who do not progress themselves in learning, or understanding of the Word. If I am to learn from my elders, I’m expecting them to have a greater understanding than I do, or I will not gain anything from it, if they don’t put the time and effort into studying the Word so they can teach it.
I will bring up the Mohs scale again. Relate this hardness or softness, to one’s understanding. Someone of lower understanding cannot teach someone of a higher understanding. You may learn something from them, but they are not in a position to teach you. If we go out in the world, we should be teaching them instead of them teach us. When he says, “iron sharpens iron,” you don’t have the less knowledgeable going out and teaching the knowledgeable. It’s the other way around.
People who are weak in the Word should not teach those with a deeper understanding. If people with a deep understanding only associate with ones who study the milk, they will naturally digress into the milk instead of the meat. We can liken this to entropy—“a gradual decline into disorder”. Psychology and sociology have proven that you tend to become like the five people you are around the most. Therefore, who you associate yourself with—that is, who you learn from—that is your peer group, regardless of age. If we want to be teachers of the Torah, anything of Yahshua, we have to learn and gain a deeper understanding, instead of going out into man’s religions and trying to learn from them. We are supposed to be the ones that teach them—the light of the world.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34, Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals. Come to a sober and right mind and sin no more, for some people have no knowledge of Yahweh. I say this to your shame.
Right there we see bad company corrupting good morals, which we hear man times. Our parents probably taught us that, and it is so true. When you look at it in the perspective of the five people you choose to be around, if you are going to become like them, then you need to choose wisely.
If I immerse myself in a different religion, or people of that religion, I’m going to tend to be like them. If I immerse myself in His words, and allow Yahweh to teach me, that is what I’m going to become, and hopefully, that will rub off on the people I am around.
Hebrews 5:12-14 speaks about progressing and learning: For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of Yahweh. You need milk, not solid food. For everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.
The writer of Hebrews is saying that you should progress in your learning. If all you do is keep teaching, or keep going somewhere that keeps teaching the very basics, you will never progress past it and you are still “babes in the word.” He says, “learn more, get deeper,” basically “to distinguish the good from evil.”
1 Corinthians 3:1-2, And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Messiah. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you are not ready for solid food. Even now, you are still not ready.
He’s admonishing them that they haven’t gained a deeper understanding. They’ve stayed in the milk (and by milk, he means the basics). The milk is contrasted to solid food. He is expecting us to progress past the basics.
Proverbs 13:20, Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companions of fools suffer hard.
That’s about as plain as it can be, talking again about who you allow yourself to be around.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Hear, O Israel: Yahweh is our El, your Elohim alone. You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Keep these words I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you’re at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Let’s pay attention to verse 5, You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might. We see this as one of the Ten Commandments. That is the greatest commandment. So, He’s speaking law. He’s speaking Torah. He’s speaking of the deeper teachings. He can put it to you simply, but He is getting into a deeper teaching with this. This is quoting the law previously given. Yahweh wants you to learn the laws, and have them on your mind—write them on your heart. What does that mean? Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. This isn’t just some “namby-pamby” stuff—show up once a week and say you are following Yahweh. Or, I study at home, I read my daily Scripture at night. This is so much more! Get it into your mind, and take it into your heart. We should be living it 24/7.
It is not easy and it is not simple, but as Scripture says, it is not grievous. A lot of religions out there are easy and simple—there’s not much accountability out there. Here, you read it and it is going to convict you. It may not make you feel good, but when you get into it, it convicts you. If you work through it, and start walking with Yahshua, which is our goal—the fight we fight—that is what makes you feel good. When you conquer something bad, that’s where the “feel good” comes from—not first, but after you work through it.
It takes work and dedication. Dedication is not showing up for services one day a week, listening to somebody giving you a “feel good” message. Dedication is living it when you are out there in the world. I have no idea what any of you do when you are not here. I get to see you for about five hours one day a week, but it is how you and I are when nobody is there to see you.
The knowledge you learn from Yahweh isn’t easy to obtain—you work at it every day. It makes me think when I am writing a message, “Where do I want to get this knowledge from?” Yahweh has seen fit to bless me with a father who is deep in the Word, and who really studies, so he can pass that on to me. I grew up in a home that knows Yahweh and Yahshua.
I can go to Google and look up interpretations of what other people are saying. Even this Bible—you can make a message on the commentary that the Bible gives you. But if you are going to give a message based on man’s interpretation, that is not getting any deeper. So, you study for yourself, and look for yourself, and ask Yahweh for that knowledge. I’ve struggled with this, thinking, “How am I going to get a message out of this? I want to give it on this topic, but where am I going to find some substance?” I will Google it, and start thinking, “Man, this really is milk!” It really is so plain, and seems like such “surface” material.
That’s why I wanted to present a message on “iron sharpening iron” relating to who you are around, who you choose to learn from, who I choose to learn from—mainly for the younger people. I feel blessed to have people like my Dad, Elder George, Elder Michael, Elder Pete, and Elder Ted—people like this who really work at it, and get into the Scriptures, so they can teach others the truth—something much deeper.
Wherever you go in life, if you have to move or anything like that, I would just say, “Pay attention to where you’re going.” Make sure you have people like this around you that can really teach you, because if you don’t, you are probably going to be fed milk for a long time. It is hard to learn on your own, without counsel.
In summation, be attentive to who you associate with regularly. Choose your teachers wisely. Learn from those who have a deep understanding, who can walk you through the fundamentals, and then further to a fuller understanding of Scripture. Even Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” That means you need a full understanding of the subject to really teach it well.
Proverbs 4 sums this all up better than I can [paraphrased]: Listen, children, to a father’s instructions and be attentive, that you may gain insight. For I give you good precepts. Do not forsake my teaching. When I was the son of my father, tender and my mother’s favorite, he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast to my words; keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom! Get insight! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her [wisdom], and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.” The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and with everything else you get, get insight. Prize her highly and she will exalt you. She will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a fair garland. She will bestow on you a beautiful crown. Hear my children and accept my words that the years of your life may be many. I have taught you the way of wisdom. I have led you in the paths of uprightness. When you walk, your step will not be hampered, and if you run, you will not stumble.
Keep hold of instruction, and do not let go. Guard her for she is your life. Do not enter the path of the wicked and do not walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it; do not go on it. Turn away from it, and pass on, for they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong. They are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble for they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of righteousness is like the light of dawn which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness, they do not know what they stumble over.
My child, be attentive to my words. Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight, keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow from the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech and put devious thoughts far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward and your gaze be straight before you. Keep straight the paths of your feet, and all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or left; turn your foot from evil.”