Thursday, September 15

Left Out on the Lawn: How Not to Be the Sharpest Tool in the Shed

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. --Proverbs 17:16

Being a science major at a top rated research university, I continually struggled to measure up to the academic challenges that presented themselves each quarter. Initially I believed that my self-discipline and excellent study habits would enable me to not only pass my classes, but earn high marks. This wasn't the reality. After receiving my first D since 8th grade algebra, I realized I needed to re-evaluate my course of action. I may have been big woman on campus in high school in terms of academic prowess, but college was a whole new ball of wax. I wasn't content to just squeak by with passing Ds.

Enter the parade of study groups, mock midterms at the Learning Center, one-on-one office hours with my professors, and a couple of inspirational tutors. If I was going to do well in the subjects that didn't come naturally to me, I was going to need every ounce of help I could get. Study habits alone weren't going to get me to graduation. I needed to spend time with people who knew what they were doing and could explain these subjects to me in a way that made sense. I went from being on academic probation my freshman year to earning an A in my toughest class my senior year.

I learned more than just chemistry, calculus and physics through that experience. I learned that attempting things on my own isn't always the best path to follow. This is true in many areas, including matters of faith. I don't have all the answers and probably never will. The thing is, I'm not content to stay where I am with my current body of knowledge or ability. If I desire to keep my mind and my faith sharp, then I need to spend time with the people who are already sharp.

A lot of Christians don't realize how important it is to spend time in fellowship with other Christians. They look at their lives and think that as long as they're living morally then that's all there is to it. The truth is there's much more to it than that. As time goes by without the constant sharpening by other Christians who can encourage us in our walk with God, then all that happens is we become rusty in our faith. Like a garden tool that's been left out on the lawn, we become vulnerable to the elements. Our once shiny plastic handles become faded and cracked from the sun, or worse, we get run over by the lawn mower and rendered completely useless.

Each of us is a lot less capable than we think we are. Because our natural tendency is to reject things of God, many aspects of the Christianity do not come naturally to us. This is why it is necessary to put ourselves in sharp company. What if Nicodemus hadn't sought out Jesus to have his questions answered? Each of us needs to expose ourselves to the right kind of influences by being in regular attendance with a body of believers. Doing so enables us to sharpen our own relationship with God by learning from the experiences of others. For us to be content to just "squeak by" in our relationship with God is not acceptable.



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