More than any other sport, football seems to put the largest emphasis on the locker room, brotherhood, and teamwork. Successful football teams represent a strong bond among the players who line up next to each other every game. 

The Atlanta Falcons have specifically been discussing this throughout their journey to the Super Bowl. Head coach Dan Quinn said they adopted the Denver Bronco’s winning motto from last season – “iron sharpens iron.”

Writer Roy Cummings recently wrote, “Quinn sought to turn the entire Falcons team into a band of brothers who practice and play for one another, and as hokey as it may sound, it’s clear the team has bought into his ‘iron-sharpens-iron’ methodology.”

I realize this phrase can feel cliche or “hokey,” but when pausing to consider its meaning, I believe there is immense power.

In Proverbs 27:17 (from the Bible’s book of wisdom), the verse proves its value with these words: As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

The Amplified translation puts it this way: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion].”

We can clearly see the importance of a football team being filled with guys who push, challenge, and encourage one another, while discussing ways to get better and relying on each other for strength to keep going.

An iron blade is used to sharpen an iron blade to improve its effectiveness and remove its dullness, and when players take on this strategy they experience something similar.

As followers of Jesus, the value of this method goes even deeper. When we pursue friendships and intentionally meet with other believers in Jesus with the purpose of strengthening our faith and character, there’s an amazing sharpening that takes place. We become more effective and stronger in our understanding of God and His Word.

We need each other to push, challenge, encourage, and lean on in order to grow in our pursuit of holiness and love for God. We need the accountability and strong bond that comes from being close enough to someone else for sharpening even to take place. There is great reward when a friend helps us in our “dull” areas, and we do the same for them.

Today, let’s not consider “iron sharpening iron” as a throwaway line that coaches or pastors often say. Instead, let’s honestly consider the positive results when we implement this powerful process into our lives.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I’m so thankful I don’t have to be on this journey of faith alone. I pray that You would give me the boldness and confidence to pursue friends that are willing to go deeper and sharpen one another. I pray I can help challenge and encourage others, while they do the same for me…always pointing each other toward Jesus. In His name I pray, Amen.