Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
As an avid trail runner I enjoy reading various articles about running, and particularly training regimens. Recently I read an article about the value of team training. The article followed various athletes, from the casual to the elite, and they shared their stories of the vast improvements in their performances when they moved from training in isolation to training with a team. Intuitively the average person would consider sports like running as individual sports and wouldn’t see the necessity of training with others, but the experts see it differently.
Sports psychologist David B. Coppel of the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle was quoted in the article: “We know that social support plays a huge role for athletes. Adherence levels are higher, and performances are better.” I’ve had the privilege of watching this first hand at my son’s track and field club. They have multiple mid to long distance Olympians and I enjoy watching these men and women push each other around a hot track mid-summer, or up snow covered hills in the dead of winter, on days when no one wants to be there. Bottom line is that “iron sharpens iron”.
As believers this should not be a strange concept to us as we know that we are God’s creation and there is a part of us that was pre-wired for relationships. It was modeled out for us at the very beginning in the first chapter of Genesis where God said “Let US make mankind in OUR image, after OUR likeness..” Teamwork was modeled out for us with the Holy Trinity.
One of the scriptures that I really enjoy in the New Testament is taken from Hebrews 10. There is some debate on who the author was, whether Paul, Apollos or Barnabas or another, but whoever it was, they certainly understood the value of team. “24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10: 24-25)
Are you running the Christian race with a team, with fellow believers who are holding you accountable, who are encouraging, and who are spurring you on towards love and good deeds? Do you have a believing friend sharpening you as iron sharpens irons? If not, I encourage you to go to God and ask him to bring such people into your life or, if they are there already, to bring you conviction to press into them.
Being a lone wolf is a dangerous choice and I have seen many strong Christians fall when they chose places of isolation. That should be no surprise to us as Christians as we know that “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. (1 Peter 5:8) I don’t know about you, but I’d sooner have many friends around on their guard for that lion than out on my own with my many blind spots. Make the choice today to surround yourself with a solid team and watch your heavenly Father provide.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10