Bible Study Blog

Discord is not Iron Sharpening Iron

by Brandy Webb


Have you ever witnessed someone saying something that they know is going to be controversial, but they say it anyway, causing an argument to happen? Some try to justify this kind of behavior by citing the “iron sharpens iron” principle of Proverbs 27:17. I really don’t think that is what this scripture means, and there is a definite line between “iron sharpening iron” and sowing discord.

Discord, definition via Google, means “disagreement between people.” Some synonyms are strife, conflict, friction, hostility, bad blood, argument, contention, dissension, and, my favorites, disunity and division. God lists discord as an abomination in Proverbs 6:16-19. It is something He despises.

When iron sharpens iron, literally, both pieces of iron become sharp, and they are then useful for whatever purpose the tools have. Therefore, when we sharpen each other, in my opinion, we are edifying each other, making each other wiser, and making each other stronger.

Iron sharpens iron when we “bear one another’s burdens,” and when we look for the opportunity to “do good to all people” (Gal 6:2, 10). It is not when we speak evil of each other (James 4:11; Titus 3:2).

I am not saying that we all have to agree with each other all the time because even Paul and Peter had their moments of disagreement. What I am saying is that we really need to work on letting “the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God” (Col 3:16).

We are ambassadors of Christ, and we need to make sure that we do not act as the world does where divisions, strife, hate, and discord seem to reign. We need to show the world that we are different, that we know how to “live in harmony with one another,” not repaying evil for evil (Rom 12:16-17).

I know that this will take God’s Spirit in us to do because we are all sinners by nature, but nothing is impossible with God (Matt 19:26). We need each other to get through this life. Remember what Solomon taught in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.