If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct. ~Ecclesiastes 10:10
We have an old English proverb that teaches us to “work smarter and not just harder.” An example of this is how we earn money. We know that having a secure job is essential to earning enough money to feed our families, pay our necessary bills, and save for the future. We refer to this as hard work. Smart work is learning to prudently invest by seizing buying opportunities and letting our money grow and work for us. Let us go beyond this in seeing the biblical importance of working wiser and not just harder.
We see the type.
Woodcutting was a common responsibility of most men. The woodcutter would use an axe head attached to the handle for cutting. An experienced woodcutter makes it a necessary practice to sharpen the edge of his axe before he begins cutting. After much cutting, the axe head starts to become blunt. As the axe head becomes less sharp, more strength is applied to cut. A blunt axe head requires more effort and does not mean that the woodcutter is more effective or gets as much done as he would have if he had had a sharpened axe head. In fact, the previous verse tells us that chopping wood with a blunt axe head can endanger the life of the woodcutter.
We see the tendency.
There are times in life when we lose our cutting edge: that is, when we are not as effective as we once were. Preachers can lose their sharpness in preaching when the message is not preached with urgency and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer warriors can lose their sharpness in praying when their praying becomes rote and almost like vain repetitions. Prayer warriors lose their sharpness when their praying is absent of heart. People lose their sharpness in their relationships when they lose their respect and care for other people. When we slack off on sharpening the edge of what we do, we become dull and blunt, and we try to compensate for this by working harder.
We see the teaching.
So, what’s the lesson? We must realize that it is more profitable for us to sharpen the edge than it is to put to more strength. First, let us realize that it is wiser for us to be sharpened in the power of the Holy Spirit than it is to serve in the bluntness of our flesh. Jesus said, “For without me ye can do nothing.” Second, it is wiser for us to be sharpened in our weakness than it is to be strong in our own might. God said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Third, it is wiser for us to be one who is constantly sharpening the relationships of life than it is to put more strength in trying to recover them. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Don’t let the axe head of your life become blunt. Whet the edge in prayer and Bible study before you start an endeavor. Don’t let routine lessen your sharpness: whet the edge whenever you notice that your cutting is become dull. When the edge of your thinking and soul life becomes thick and indifferent, it is time to whet your edge by coming apart for a time of refreshment and infusion of fresh enthusiasm. When your vision starts to lose its edge, it’s time to sharpen it by going to the watch tower and waiting to see what He says to you. You can work harder, but it is better to work wiser!
Have a sharpened God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: 2 Chronicles 21-24