As Iron Shapens Iron…


This is a photo of iron shaping iron. If you are a man and had any touch point with church or men in churches, you may have heard this Bible verse; Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 You may have asked yourself or others, what does this verse really mean in the context of my relationships with other men? Great question! I thought we might explore the possible meaning of this verse together. I’ve collected some a few images of what iron sharpening iron actually looks like just for fun.


I’m guessing, if you are like me, you are trying to fit these images and their implications, into a relationship with another man. How is that working for you? What are the characteristics of the relationship and what goes on between you in the sharpening of one another?

The Life Application Bible has a footnote to this verse which seems to sum up the general understanding quite well:

“There is a mental sharpness that comes from being around good people. And a meeting of minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights. This requires discussion partners who can challenge each other and stimulate thought—people who focus on the idea without involving their egos in the discussion; people who know how to attack the thought and not the thinker. Two friends who bring their ideas together can help each other become sharper.” (from Barbara L. Kilka,

I took some time to look into the Hebrew words for iron and sharpen and the Life Application footnote does a pretty good job of what “iron sharpening iron” looks like relationally. Here is where we can get “relational traction.” I think this relational sharpening happens in circles of trust. More about how one might establish a circle of trust with a few others in the next blog post. Do you have a few men who could form a circle of trust with you?


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