I was remembering back to a weekend that my son Peter called me. He wanted to go golfing. The course he wanted to play at would be close to the last choice on my list. I disliked the course because when I was a young and very poor golfer, this course ate me up, spit me out, and made a fool out of me. I probably hadn’t played there in 15 years and I certainly wasn’t excited about giving it another chance – even if my golf game had improved since then. Even so, Peter used his persuasive efforts and I caved and said “yes.”
We golfed with two of his other friends. The first hole went poorly and I couldn’t help but think, “Here we go again.” As Peter and I were going to the second hole, I said, “Petey, I want to pray over our golf game. Maybe you don’t need help but I do!” We prayed together as we drove up to the next hole. I felt better although my golf game wasn’t reflecting it. Things stayed shaky for the next two holes. His friends must have wondered if I really did know how to play golf. As I got in the golf cart after the third hole, I shook my head, looked at Peter and said, “I hate this course.” He looked back at me and laughed.
“Okay Dad,” he said, “I am going to now teach you what you teach me all the time. Do you remember these words? What you say is important! So, repeat after me. ‘I love this course.’” It made me laugh. I forced out the words, “I love this course.” He said, “Come on Dad, say it again and put some passion into it.” I amped it up and said, “I really love this course.” We both laughed. “Now,” he said, “I want you to keep saying it.” “This is what you’ve taught me all my life. It’s fair that I get to help you to speak right.” I laughed again and said, “You are absolutely right and I appreciate it!” I continued to tell him, “Peter, I just taught this to a group of 300 men at my Manhood breakfast the past weekend. I had shared with them the verse Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” I went on to explain to Peter what I had taught the men regarding this verse.
We all get the part of “iron sharpens iron.” The verse continues with extremely significant wisdom. “So a man sharpens the countenance of a friend.” If you meditate on these words, you begin to see that God has called you first to have friends. This doesn’t just mean buddies that you hang with. It can mean acquaintances, family, and people who you have reoccurring relationships with in your life such as in the workplace. Friendships function at many levels.
Then along with that friendship comes a calling. The calling is to sharpen the countenance of that friend. In the Hebrew, the definition for countenance implies, “the emotional reflection of the heart, on the face.” I realize many people put on a good game face most of the time. The real face usually shows up when they get to talking with a friend and get honest and transparent. It doesn’t take too long before the real countenance of the heart begins to show on the face.
Again, God gives us a calling in friendship and that is “to sharpen the countenance of a friend.” What that really means is to bring hope – “godly hope,” to their situation. It’s not when one says, “the economy is really bad and my business is tanking” and the other says, “It’s bound to get better at some point.” That in all likelihood will not change their countenance. It’s when you bring a promise of God to their situation that through the anointing in you, pierces their heart, stirs hope that only God’s Word can give, and lifts up their countenance.
This weekend a woman came up to me after our church service. I have known her for years. She was suicidal. She said, “Pastor, I can’t take life any more, I just want to go home to be with Jesus.” This woman has battled depression on and off for years. But there is something about her that is so special. She is the most beautiful letter-writer you could ever imagine, and she can’t write without encouraging you. It’s powerful and exhorting. She has written me letters of thanks and encouragement for years.
For one second when she told me she was suicidal, I wasn’t sure what to say, but then suddenly, God showed me. I told her, “There are so many people in this world that are hurting and discouraged. They need someone to encourage them. Someone who sees the good in them and points it out in an edifying way. You are that person. It is a gift in you. You are one of the greatest exhorters I’ve ever known. If you’d see that as a calling on your life and put it to work full-time, you would see God use you and it would change your life.” I immediately watched her countenance change. She went from looking suicidal to radiant with a huge smile. God had touched her in a miraculous way. She left with a smile on a mission to encourage others.
What we speak matters! What we speak can be gas to a fire, or it can put out a fire and supernaturally bring hope and refreshing. Friends have a calling and part of that calling is to be “Iron sharpening Iron” and “Sharpening the countenance of a friend.” Are you imparting words of faith and promise – words of power and anointing from God’s Word to your friends who need encouragement? It’s what you are called to do!
Proverbs 15:4 (NIV) “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life…”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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