Lessons From Rehab- Volume Six

The Value of Fellowship- Sharpening

It is now eleven weeks since I started this road to recovery.  The first six weeks I had to wear a sling.  I could not use my shoulder at all.  Once the sling came off, the fun began.  Going to the physical therapist has been my school room for spiritual education.  As I have opened my heart to the lessons the Lord has for me, an excitement has entered into my visits to the P.T..  It’s as though I am anticipating the next truth He is going to challenge me with.

This week’s lesson is an age old proverb that gets repeated over and over again and yet stands the test of time; “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17.  Three distinct principles regarding fellowship come to mind as I have been contemplating this verse.  This proverb assumes there are at least two men in relationship.  That can be a problem to begin with.  We have to be willing to enter into more than casual connection with other men.  Our dialogue must be deeper than fantasy football, stock markets and car parts.  We MUST open ourselves in vulnerable conversation and community.  The bottom line is WE NEED EACH OTHER and here are three reasons why:

1.  Fellowship reveals the jagged edges.  If iron needs to be sharpened, that means it has a dull edge which renders it as less effective.  The problem here is time and place.  Where do we get real fellowship?  Forgive me pastors, but deep fellowship does not usually happen on Sunday morning.  Sundays we put on our best face and try and act like we have  a lot of answers, not questions.  Rarely do we show our true selves in church.  In fact, being too honest can get you stuck in the prayer room with people laying hands on you and no real answers. We must deliberately engage with a small group of men or one on one.  The men’s group at my church is perhaps the most transparent group of men I have been around.  It is up to us to find a safe place for honest and deep conversation.  If I really want help, I have to find it.  Perhaps the most spiritual group in our churches are the recovery groups.  There are no pretensions, facades or posers. They create a “No b.s. zone” with authentic answers to real problems.  When it comes to getting help in marriage, it is imperative that you get help with your wife in attendance.  It’s not unusual that a man’s view of life’s events and his wife’s perspective differ greatly.  In our small group, it was common for me to say, “We had a great week”, only to have my wife reply, “What week were you living in?”  This process can be painful, embarrassing and profoundly life changing.

2.  Fellowship works out the weaknesses.  Once the issues/conflicts/sin are revealed, now we can begin to work on it.  When I go to see the physical therapist, he knows my weaknesses.  He understands what it’s going to take to get me stronger.  I have to trust him and the process to get to where I want to go. It’s the same spiritually.

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”  1 Corinthians 9:25-27

I have specific exercise that help strengthen my shoulder and the muscles surrounding it.  We may need specific actions to work on in our relationships to each other and to the Lord.  Perhaps some new habits are needed.  For instance;  when I would get home  from work, I typically picked up the mail and fretted over the bills or whatever I found.  I had to learn to connect with Carol when I first got home to see if she or the kids needed my attention.  It was awkward a first, but I was able to create a healthy habit that allowed us to feel more like a team.  It helped to know that each week in our group, I would be asked about these new habits I was working on. We cannot underestimate the rough edges that require a good sharpening.  “All a man’s ways seem right to him.”  Proverbs 21:2.  We will need others to help us see those areas that we don’t.  The question may be “Who can I be honest with?”   Do you have friends that know you well enough to help you?  It’s risky to be honest with others and more precarious to ask for help.  The fact is; If I’m not seeking help or input, I won’t get any.

3.  Fellowship can help make us more useful.  The goal of my therapy is to have a functioning shoulder again.  It’s going to take work and it will be worth it.  That is also the value of fellowship.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:10

The Lord has work for us to do.  Our “rough edges” may be keeping us from the work He has intended for us.   That is why the “iron sharpening iron”  is so valuable.  He needs us to be razor-edged, honed, keen, accurate, acute, strong, crisp, defined, and precise.  The only way that can happen is through fellowship that is intentional, strengthening and consistent.   You can’t expect to go to the gym once a month and make any progress.  You have to consistently focus on the areas of weakness in your life and commit to exercising those areas so that they become assets instead of liabilities.

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