A little over a decade ago I wrote Dismount your donkey at the summit. That post was about a Tao Meditation that argues all paths lead to God. I argued that they don’t, but I didn’t observe then what I did today. Iron sharpens iron. I thought wisdom I achieved was all my work under the providence of God. Yet before I accepted the challenge to discover the error in that Tao Meditation, someone had to make the case for it.
Today I received the following bit of wisdom.
The other day when I was running I had the epiphany that, aside from my wife, you are my best friend. If a friend is someone who loves you enough to patiently challenge your own assumptions so that you grow in wisdom, then you have been a good one. That does not mean that I always ultimately agree with you. I don’t. But you have made me research and meditate on and explore the most important issues in our lives and come to new understandings that I did not have before. In particular, you have challenged me to seek a more direct and mature relationship with the God that I have believed in my whole life. For this, I am very grateful my friend and brother. (from here)
When we debate (looks a lot like arguing), tsalmon , the author of that bit of wisdom above, generally advocates the virtue of love. Whereas, I suggest love is important, but the proper exercise of the virtue of love requires wisdom. Which of us is right? Lord knows.
The same day tsalmon wrote that comment this post, IRON SHARPENS IRON, appeared on the The Prince William-Manassas Family Alliance‘s website. IRON SHARPENS IRON is about a newspaper column by Everett Piper, Choosing the right path in contentious times. After reading tsalmon’s note, I focused upon another aspect of Piper’s column.
Maybe choosing to follow that “One Person”; the one who has shown us the way, the one who knows the right path, and the one who exemplifies the right ideas, is the only sure way for us to avoid getting lost. (from here)
What does Piper mean by “getting lost”? Well, Christians consider the Lost those who don’t know God, those who have not been reborn in Jesus Christ.
Is there “One Person”? Yes. That is Jesus Christ, but He gives each of us a role in salvation. We all need each other as counselors and examples. We all need the fellowship of other human beings.
Consider the Book of Proverbs. Some form of the word counselor occurs 17 times in the Book of Proverbs (NASB) (see Proverbs (17)). The first instance is in the figure above. As that proverb says, those who understand the need seek wise seek counsel.
But how do we bear the burden of wise counsel, hearing what we find disagreeable. That is with love. It is not enough to counsel another. We must also be their friend and listen.
Imagine if metal could scream with pain. When iron sharpens iron, we each learn the hurt of being told we are wrong. With each acquisition of wisdom we lose a little of our pride. Then it requires the love of a friend to soothe the pain. Without love, we cannot become humble enough to learn any wisdom.