Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Basic blacksmithing will straighten out crooked iron bars using a fiery forge, pliers, hammer, and an anvil. Inserting the steel into the heart of the fire, they hammer away while checking the color of the steel frequently. When scrap metal has reached the optimal working temperature, it will be colored between dark orange and bright yellow, almost white. In the process of fashioning a piece of metal, an experienced blacksmith employs different techniques such as tapering (making the end pointy), flattening, or bending. Basically, a blacksmith will turn a square bar into a round, a round bar into a square, or into whichever form he fancies for his piece of work.

Guess what: we are a piece of work – not a very flattering self-assessment, but with blacksmithing as an analogy, it’s pretty obvious that there are two parties involved: a skilled craftsman and a piece of metal. The Trinity as skilled craftsmen is known to work on some pretty stubborn objects, human beings. Iron is not easily moldable, unless high temperatures and a number of tools are involved.

God’s love is the hottest flame there is; and it straightens out our crookedness. We may not like the heat of temptations, or trials and tribulations coming our way; but as we experience twists and turns, ups and downs, mountain tops and deep valleys, our character is built. When Jacob, founding father of the nation of Israel, was interviewed by the Egyptian Pharaoh at the end of his life, he too observed that life’s no walk in the park (Genesis 47:9):

“Jacob said to him, ‘My life has been spent wandering from place to place. It has been short and filled with trouble—only one hundred thirty years. My ·ancestors lived as an alien much longer than I.’”

If we trust our Creator enough to allow His access to our hearts, we will be molded into something beautiful and see the Trinity at work in our lives; however, there’s another important character-building factor, and that’s people. On this note, the book of Proverbs elaborates (Proverbs 27:17):

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

The countenance of a friend indicates proximity; from a distance the face of a friend will be just a blotch in the scenery. Face-time, however, is what we all need to reap the benefits of a thriving relationship. A good friend will bring out the best in us. We find ourselves validated, uplifted, counseled, strengthened, encouraged, challenged, and sharpened.

So, if you have good friends, appreciate them today. If you have no friends, listen more closely to what others have to say. Who knows? It may turn a leaf and open up a brand new chapter in your life.

“As ointment and perfume gladden the heart, so the sweetness of one’s friend comes from his sincere counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9)