By Lauren Clark
It was a perfect April day. We sat on a quaint restaurant patio. The weather was warm but not scorching hot, and a delicate, cool breeze moved the angel hairs around my face slightly. Days like these are few and far between in Texas. Just a couple more weeks and it would be too hot for patio weather. But this was the kind of day brunches were made for as we gathered around a table to celebrate my friend’s thirty-seventh birthday.
During a momentary gap in conversation as we dug into our Texas-sized brunch plates, I observed the community of friends surrounding the birthday girl. The group represented different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Some were dressed in yoga pants and workout clothes, and others had on stylish, thought-out brunch outfits. Another came in scrubs. We may have all looked distinctive, but we had one thing in common: friendship with and love for our celebrating friend.
After brunch, I couldn’t help but ponder the meaning of friendship and what my own friendships mean to me. Through many years and life events, I’ve amassed quite a variety of treasured friendships. No two friends have been alike, yet each friendship had one thing in common—friction. The word friction may not immediately suggest a healthy friendship in our minds, but according to Scripture, this is what God calls us to as friends.
A well-known Scripture on friendship is Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (NIV). I have always responded to this verse with the perception that we are called to encourage one another to be better “Christians.” But there is so much more to this verse than telling your friend, “You can do it!”
Iron is sharpened by rubbing a file against it. That doesn’t necessarily sound like perfect weekend brunches and flowers to me, but when iron rubs against a file, it causes friction. Sparks fly! It’s not always an easy process, but friends are called to help smooth out the rough places and edges in our lives with love, grace, and honesty as only a friend can do. Friends have the ability to take a file to those rough and not-so-pretty areas, to “sharpen” versus to “dull.” In a true and loving friendship, you can sharpen each other’s visions, dreams, marriages, talents, and more.
Hebrews 10:24–25 (NASB) says, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembly, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” To stimulate means to rouse to action or effort, as by encouragement or pressure; to spur on and incite. That’s the type of friend I want to be. That’s the type of friend I want in my life, one who won’t be constantly agreeable but who will look for ways to spur me on to greater achievement. We must challenge each other!
What kind of friend are you? Are you willing to allow sparks to fly in your friendships? My hope is that we can all be friends willing to spur one another to action through words of encouragement and love. When life gets tiring and overwhelming, I want us all to be the type of friend willing to reignite the passion and vision in another’s life. And if we become dull in places, a true friend will come with a file, offering to help bring back the luster.
Lauren Clark lives in Dallas, Texas, where she moved 5 years ago to be closer to family and help plant a church (Shoreline Dallas). She has been married to Sean Clark for over seven years and they have six dogs and one horse. Lauren’s passion is sharing God’s love for us through personal stories while relating them to practical biblical truths that bring life, love, freedom, and encouragement to every area of our lives. Read more from Lauren at LaurenJoyClark.com.
Photograph © Jakub Skafiriak, used with permission