We learn from each other - 27 September 2023
By Ben Fourie
What a big responsibility! What I do and say have a big influence on other people. The idea in this proverb of iron that sharpens iron conjures up the vision of a chef sharpening a knife on a sharpening steel. There was a time that all kitchens had such a sharpening steel somewhere in a drawer. If you have the skill, only a few passes of the blade over the steel will sharpen a dull blade very quickly. Our contact with other people may be over a long period of time or it might also be a quick encounter. Both of these kinds of meeting might have a profound effect on the other person or on myself.
In a recent sermon, our minister used a saying that got me thinking, because it is so true. He said one should worry less about what your children are doing and be more worried about what they see you doing. That should be true not only in our relationship with our children, but with all people that cross our path. People hear what we say and see what we do.
The proverb tells us that people learn from one another. Other translations say that we shape the minds of other people. This might be a long process. Psychologists using the family-of-origin model say that people’s lives are influenced by other people, sometimes across more than one generation.
On the other hand, a chance meeting may also have a long-term positive or negative influence on the person we meet. As an unskilled person, trying to hone a knife might do more damage to the edge of the blade than getting it sharp, so we can do a lot of damage to another person’s self-esteem if we are not careful. Fortunately, we are also able to have a very positive influence when we handle someone with love and tenderness. We should never forget that we are working with people who belong to God.
Prayer: Father, thank you for sharpening me and forming me into a useable tool in your kingdom. Please use me to do the same in the lives of other people. Amen