“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
Iron tools, rubbed against similar hard materials, such as a file or whetstone, will sharpen their edge, making them more effective. Without that friction, resistance, or whetting, they remain dull and will become useless.
In the same way, Christians through fellowship and wholesome exchange of ideas increase their effectiveness and improve their walk with Christ. The absence of this kind of relationship with other Christians will eventually cause our spiritual effectiveness to suffer. There are reasons the Bible puts such an emphasis on God’s people having the right kind of fellowship. We need each other. We need the influence of other godly Christians in our lives. This is one benefit of friendship. The counsel and opinions of good friends can help us. Through the right kind of fellowship, “a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” The right kind of friendships and fellowship will make us better servants of the Lord.
Of course, the opposite is also true. The wrong kind of associations or friendships can have a negative affect on us. The Bible tells us that, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). Friends who constantly undermine our faith and tempt us to compromise are not the type of friends that we need. We need friends who will contribute to our spiritual progress and help us reach our potential for Christ. Christians who are not engaged in the right kind of fellowship are missing out on one of the more important influences we can have in our Christian growth.
This verse not only speaks of one of the benefits of friendship, but it also identifies the responsibility of Christian friends. We are to share or exchange ideas with others.
Many times, those of us who are Christians enjoy visiting with other believers and having social times together, but without the spiritual conversations and input that contribute to meaningful fellowship. Just spending time together as Christians will not necessarily produce the improved character that this verse speaks of. We need the kind of fellowship that includes discussion about our spiritual journey and opportunities to share with friends what Christ means to us and what He is doing in our lives.