Aloha Friday Message – July 30, 2010 – Look Sharp! It’s Aloha Friday!

1031AFC073010 Look Sharp! It’s Aloha Friday!

Proverbs 27:17
NAB: As iron sharpens iron, so man sharpens his fellow man.
KJV: Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

Sometimes when I read that, I sort of wonder about the assumptions there. Does that mean a harder person sharpens a softer person? A smarter person sharpens someone less bright? Looking at the meanings of the words in Hebrew there is a connotation that inner strength is used to strengthen the outer strength (paw-neem’ – countenance) of another. One strength which is internal helps shape the external strength and character of another. It is a way the inner character is tested and improved. It is a fruitful relationship, but it seems to me it is mostly a one-way relationship.

I was going through some old notes and came across something that explores two-way relationships – community relationships. It’s based on the differences between like and love. Liking is a feeling. Loving is an act. Liking is easier, and loving is definitely harder. The fruits of like are transitory and superficial. The fruits of love are enduring and deeply meaningful.

Think about fruit for a minute. It’s natural. Fruit is not manufactured. It is the outcome of life and living. It is begun with fertility and yields to growth, but the growth must be nurtured. Living, life, growing, cultivating – all of there require an “other” or several others. The relationship between the fruit and the others requires cultivation. Fruit doesn’t just happen. It doesn’t appear out of nothing. It comes from a tree, a plant, a vine, a seed and the host that produces the fruit needs to be anchored to a source of nurturing – sure there are “air plants” but they are still anchored and nurtured in a way that suits their nature.

The tree, the vine, the plant, the soil, the sun, the rain, and the fertilizer – none of these devour the fruit. The fruit is not for them. The fruit is for another, and that other is usually outside the system that provides the substrates for growth. The garden is not the same as the gardener. The gardener reaps the fruit of his labor, and the fruit of his labor comes from nurturing that which is natural growth, not manufactured growth. The fruit is for the gardener, and if the fruit is abundant due to his diligence, the fruit is for others as well.

Fruit comes pretty much ready-to-use. You can make fruit into other things by combining it with other ingredients. You can use fruit to make an apple pie, or ketchup, or wine, but you can’t use fruit to make concrete. Fruit needs to be used the way it is. Sometimes you have to cook it or peel it or crush it or ferment it, but you can’t really change it’s basic, natural use. You have to use fruit appropriately. Using it inappropriately makes it useless.

Fruit is alive, even while you are using it. Dead fruit is yucky! It attracts flies and other scavengers. It stinks. It feels and tastes terrible. Fruit dies when the vine, or plant, or tree, or growth substrate dies. Fruit begins to die when it is separated from what grew it, from whatever it used of fertility, soil, sun, water, chemicals, nurturing and cultivation. Cut off from its roots, it no longer grows. That doesn’t mean it is totally lost forever, because fruit contains the spark of life inside itself and can be used to regenerate and make more fruit. Everywhere, all the time, something stops growing and begins dying. You and I are always growing and dying at the same time just within our own bodies. When we stop growing more than we are dying, we head toward dying quicker. But that doesn’t mean we should just give up; we have the seed of life in our fruit, in the fruits of our labors.

The decision to produce more fruit is usually not made by the fruit. Fruit doesn’t decide how productive it will be. The productivity of fruit comes from the nurturing of the growth substrate and the cultivation provided by others – iron sharpening iron. Learning is living. Growing is changing and learning to live is inescapable if you are growing. If you are cut of from the vine, you are dying quickly. If you were a blade of grass mown down this morning, you will be tinder by this evening. Coming to terms with all of that is healing, and healing is the result of nurturing growth.

When you live, work, walk, cultivate, grow, and share your crop of faith, you are giving life a chance in a sinful world condemned to death, and that’s the truth. The biggest source of death for the truth is lies, so sharpen one another by knowing about the lies and the liar (John 8:44). It takes time to grow, and your time is limited. For God, time is all the same – so ask him for some, enough so that you can continue to grow. Read scripture to enrich your growth substrate – your life – but read good non-scriptural stuff too. Get a spiritual director or at least get a spiritual direction, one that is based on reality, not manufactured fruit concocted by some guru. Be real about what is happening to you in your life. Is it difficult? Are you being ground down? Maybe you are being sharpened! I keep saying this – “It’s always good in the end. If it’s not good yet, it’s not the end.”

There a corollary to that, I guess. “If it’s good now, it may not be the end, but it’s a good place to grow toward that.”

I’ll leave you with these words from St. Paul – and it is him speaking to you, not me.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me [Paul] — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Please continue to pray for, with, and about one another. NA still needs help with her housing situation and a way to support it. CI looking for work at home but sill living apart from the family; spouse is going for surgery to correct the after-effect of a cordoma. KD asks to be delivered from everything that threatens fruitfulness. DN and family ask for strength to endure many storms. MC is taking steps toward being liberated from choking weeds that threaten all fruitfulness in life; pray that the gardener finds the best ways to help. Pray for those who are suffering oppression, terror, war, disease, pestilence, famine, and inhumane treatment. Pray for those who have lost everything due to floods, earthquakes, fires, storms, and other “acts of nature.” Pray that you and I will continue to be fruitful and that we will always remember that our fruit is for others.

Peace be with you always. Aloha pumehana. E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe. = May blessing be ever with you.

Sorry to be late today. Dental procedure yesterday sort of took the sap out of me. (pun intended!)

I like you, but best of all, I love you!



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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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