Sparks and Tinder

I own an angle grinder. It is a power tool conspicuous in my possession for its disuse. So I am often looking for ways to justify purchasing it years ago. A couple years ago I discovered I could use it to sharpen the blade on my lawnmower.

The edge it creates is determined in part by the steadiness of my hands. With an obvious lack of experience, the result is an imperfect, though passable sharpening. Though not over the moon with the outcome, the part of the process that surprised me what the sparks.

Having little experience sharpening blades or working with metal, the river of sparks created caught me off guard. As soon as the course disc encounters the metal blade, a glimmering jet jumps to life. But there is a congruent phenomenon in human relationships that should have made me better prepared.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Proverbs 27:17

The proverb is a simple physical analogy that describes our relationships. But my ignorance of sharpening work might have been informed by some emotional intelligence. When two people, even the best of friends (perhaps especially them), seek to push each other further in their understanding or character or skills, sparks will fly. Call a friend out when they are straying from what you know is a good path for life, and the intensity of the reaction is usually proportional to how close you two are. The harder you press the grinder into the metal, the more friction is created.

Suppressing my testosterone, I had actually read the safety manual for the angle grinder before I started. It had some good advice. Clear the area of any combustible material. Though a prodigious quantity of small fires was essentially produced, it found no fuel available. We might take similar heed to safety in our relationships.

“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry…”

Ephesians 4:26

If there are festering wounds, unforgiven wrongs, or open lies present in a relationship, beware. These things can catch fire. Often in moments of well intentioned encouragement. We challenge a friend to higher morals, and they recall one of our own failings, which we had tried to sweep under the rug.

So I cleaned out my garage a bit before I started. So pick that plank of your eye before you get the speck in your friend’s.

Lord, search me and know me. Point out any wayward bent in me.

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