(Proverbs 27:17 NKJV) As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.I have always liked this verse. To me, this is one of the points of fellowship. Christians get together with other Christians to build up (edify) each other. That is positive, but involves things that we sometimes don't think much about.
Iron sharpening iron sometimes strikes sparks. In our fellowship we need to allow for some sparks of controversy and argument. Getting to the encouragement and refreshment of fellowship requires a willingness to be challenged. Such challenges drive us to the Word of God and to more careful thinking.
Iron sharpening iron is abrasive. The two iron objects scrape against each other and tear off little bits of each other. Gradually the edge is made fine and sharp. Feathers don't sharpen iron. Butter won't sharpen iron. The friends need to work on each other with serious discourse of point and counterpoint.
Iron sharpening iron takes time. We live in the world of instant gratification. But iron sharpening takes effort over time. If we are going to have the benefits, we need to put in the time and the effort. Otherwise we will become increasingly dull.
Iron sharpening iron doesn't last. We don't actually use all that much iron in modern times. We are used to hardened steel - even stainless steel. Iron, on the other hand, gets dull pretty quickly and is subject to corrosion. We can't just get sharpened once and then think we are good to go for a year. We need frequent sharpening - friends - people to talk to who can be our iron counterpoint.
I praise God for the iron people God has put into my life over time. I have benefited from my parents, my church families, my professors, my classmates, my wife, and my colleagues in ministry. I have had mentors and friends. I have been blessed by local fellowships, state fellowships and national fellowships of churches. These are not just for entertainment. They are not just a place to get a pat on the back. They are for the hard work of sharpening the iron.
Fellowship is worth the effort because iron sharpens iron.