Friday, March 11, 2022

Sharpening One Another

 Read Galatians 2

And so this second chapter brings us to the Proverbs, at least to one with which you are familiar.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

So what we look at today is not so much the theology that Paul gave to the Galatians and to us but the mechanics of Christian life.  We don’t always agree.  We don’t walk on the Primrose Path.  Christian life is not all roses, sometimes it’s more like thorns.

Paul noted that he eventually went to Jerusalem to confer with the principals of the Jerusalem church and those who were leading other to Jesus.  Paul said that he knew that what he received from God was the truth.  It was the gospel.  It was his life mission.

But still, had he missed something, anything?  Peter and John had walked with Jesus for 3 years.  Did they have some insight that he missed?

Paul was certain of what Jesus commanded him to do, but still it was good to confer with other believers.

As it turned out, all were in accord as to salvation.  It is a gift of God.  The Pharisees were raising objections to the Gentile believers not following the law.  They weren’t even circumcised!

But the demands of the infiltrators were stifled, at least as far as the leadership was concerned.  It was grace and only grace that led to salvation.  It was the unfathomable love of God that took away our sin in the blood of Jesus.

Listen to what Peter had to say in this Acts 15 account.

Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

It’s not only grace for the Gentiles but grace for the Jew as well.  Nobody has ever attained righteousness through the law.  Jesus was the only one to ever fulfill the law and he was righteous to begin with. It’s an impossible journey.  It’s noble in effort but fruitless in results.

It’s grace, grace, and only grace by which we come to salvation.

Remember where I began.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

Sometimes that means that we butt heads on occasion, not to justify ourselves, but to live a more godly life.  Paul noted that when Peter came to Antioch, he was socializing with the Jew and Gentile alike, but when some men from James joined them, Peter withdrew from associating with the Gentiles.

Do you know the term for this?  High School.

This is the nature of people to close ranks with those whom they think they are most like.  Paul noted that he told Peter, “That dog don’t hunt!”

Most likely this meant that Peter was observing only Jewish customs and not eating or socializing with the Gentile believers.

Paul proffers to Peter and to us, that we are hypocrites if we can’t live by grace in the light.  Are we ashamed of living by grace?

We could never live fully by the law in the first place, so why pretend that the part of the law we can uphold gets us to righteousness?

We should desire to live holy and righteous lives in response to grace.  But couldn’t it be some law and some grace, ok, mostly grace?

Let’s say it was ten percent living by the law and ninety percent salvation through grace, how would we handle that?

We would start by saying that I did my small part and God did the rest.  After a few years we would say it’s more like a fifty-fifty deal.  I do my part and God matches that with grace. It’s a matching 401K for salvation.

Give it a little more time and our human nature will have us saying, I did most of what was needed to get to righteousness.  God threw in a little at the end.

We will get to this statement in Paul’s letter to Ephesus, but let’s think on it now.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Salvation is a gift of God.  Period! Or exclamation mark!  It is a gift.  Our human nature would be to boast in our righteousness, but we must always remember that salvation is a gift from God.

Why do I need to remember this?

That man who used and maybe even sold drugs or stole to get them, once he receives the gift of God, he is my brother.  She is my sister in Christ Jesus.

Even the murderer who receives Jesus as Lord is my brother or sister in Christ.  His or her salvation came from God, not from their righteousness or lack thereof.

We like to look at everyone’s sins as a lifelong resume that they carry with them.  Now our sins have been washed away in the blood of Jesus, but some people can never be as good as we are now that we are saved.

That dog—that thinking—don’t hunt.  Salvation for you, for me, for anyone who repents and believes is from God. 

This is just Tom Theology here, but I think the person who was so far from God and comes to believe, actually understands God’s love better than I do.  God’s grace reached out so far to save them that they understand grace better than many of us who were brought up in the way we should go do.

Back to where I started.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

The standard mentoring model balances challenge and support.  If there is too much challenge, people often back away.  If there is support without challenge, people just don’t grow.

The balance of challenge and support produces growth.  I like to say that we are challenged to get out of our comfort zones on a regular basis.  There is only one comfort zone appropriate to the believer and it is called GROWTH.

Think on this week’s chapter in terms of the proverb.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.


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