Sharpen to Shine | November 28th, 2016
In my many years of shopping for vintage costume jewelry, it seems I have been able to find the look-alike of nearly every gemstone imaginable in a fabulous 1950s setting. And November’s birthstone citrine is no exception. I came across a gorgeous citrine-colored rhinestone pin at an antique show and fell in love with it.
After giving some thought to the best way this beauty could be repurposed, I decided to adhere it onto a sparkly 1950s expandable rhinestone bracelet. Not that it needed any more sparkle, but this made the piece exceptionally stunning.
The Gemstone Citrine
November’s birthstone is the beautiful gemstone citrine. The Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.) discovered the largest known transparent faceted gemstone is a citrine at a little over 19,500 carats which is equal in weight to about 8.6 pounds!
Citrine, found mainly in Brazil, is actually a yellow quartz that was renamed over 450 years ago by a German scientist named Georg Bauer. He was known as “the father of mineralogy.”
The name citrine was officially adopted in 1556 when Bauer used it in a publication about gemstones and jewelry. The root of the word comes from the French word citron meaning “yellow,” or the Latin word citrus for the color of citrus fruit.
Citrine’s natural color is between a yellow and reddish orange. The mineral iron determines the color in quartz. Amethyst, a purple variety of quartz, is closely related to citrine. When iron is heated, the iron impurities are reduced resulting in less violet purple colors shown in amethyst and more golden orange colors which you see in citrine. It is quite possible that quartz crystals, which grew naturally as amethyst, turned into citrine by the heat from nearby volcanic activity.
Iron Sharpens Iron
Iron plays a major role in the creation of citrine and is also talked about in a powerful way in the book of Proverbs:
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17
Long ago, during the Iron Age between 1200 BC and 600 BC, the dominant toolmaking material was iron. Tools were sharpened by grinding them with another abrasive substance harder than the tool itself.
Iron was not very pure at that time and contained other metals such as nickel, copper, and carbon. Pure iron without impurities is very soft and could have never sharpened another piece of iron. But with the addition of impurities such as carbon, it could be as much as 1000 times harder than iron.
Sharpen Through Quality Time
A few other descriptive words for sharpen include alter, change, modify, make different, or cause a transformation. Could you use a bit of sharpening in certain areas of your life?
One area where almost all of us could definitely use some sharpening or change is in the way we schedule our time. Our lives are often so busy that we end up with no space left in our schedules for spending quality time with others. It is during this quality time that we have the opportunity to sharpen and be sharpened with real conversation…two people sharing their thoughts, feelings, desires, hopes, fears, and experiences in an uninterrupted context – with eye contact. This, of course, cannot happen between emails and texts. It must be face-to-face communication.
Sharpening is an absolute necessity for transformation. God puts people in our lives and us in others’ lives to do that very thing…sharpen each other. The Bible speaks very clearly about making it a priority to carve out time in our schedules for quality sharpening time with others:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
To consider is to think about, ponder, or mull over ways you can encourage another person toward love and good deeds. This requires spending quality time with someone while really listening to them about what they are going through in their life.
God calls us to meet together because He knows it makes us grow and change for the better when we can encourage others. He also knows that we need personal one-on-one motivation from those who are stronger in their faith and able to provide that encouragement to us…iron sharpening iron.
To spur is to motivate or encourage – to rekindle a flame that may have gone out. When we encourage others toward love and good deeds, we are spurring them on to shine more brightly with Christ’s love, that He may be glorified in the good things they do for others.
Equipped with a Two-Edged Sword
How do we know what to say to encourage and motivate people? Thankfully, we do not have to rely on ourselves to figure that out. God equips us by giving us His Word to use for sharpening. Everything we need to help sharpen us and others is in the Bible.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Timothy 3:16-17
To know what it says, however, requires reading it consistently so the Scriptures can easily come to mind when you need them. For this to happen, you will have to have margin in your schedule to make time for God. A good place to start is in Matthew and work your way through the New Testament reading a chapter a day. I find there is so much to ponder that God wants to teach me, even in just one chapter!
God’s Word is described as a two-edged sword. It can be very thought-provoking and perhaps even a bit painful when you read it, especially when you know your life is in dire need of transformation. It is so sharp that it will cut all the way through to the deepest part of you where nothing can be hidden – a necessity for true transformation.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12
When you use God’s Word to sharpen others, it is very important to always speak the truth in love. Otherwise, they may not want to listen to anything you have to say if you come across as harsh and judgmental.
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Ephesians 4:15
Share One Another’s Burdens
After a tool is sharpened, it is often followed by a process of polishing the surface to increase smoothness. We have the responsibility to help other followers of Christ get on a smooth path, away from living a life that has become unpleasing to God and back on the path that honors Him.
How do you do that? By spending quality time listening as your friend shares their struggles with you. In other words, sharing their burdens. Then, in a gentle and humble manner, you use God’s Word for polishing to help them see their need for change and direct them toward the right path.
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
No Need to Fear
Do you ever find yourself hesitant to let God use you to sharpen someone else because of your own fears about how they might react to you admonishing them? I know I do! But it is God’s deep desire for you to speak the truth in love so they may be sharpened. Here is a good verse to remember when you feel fearful:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7
When iron sharpens iron, both the sharpened and the sharpener go through a transformation. Their faith and yours is strengthened when you spur one another on toward love and good deeds through spending quality time together, searching the Scriptures, praying together, and encouraging one another to become sharpened.
Just as iron determines the color of quartz, quality time determines your influence in your friend’s sharpening process. And in turn, you will reap the reward of seeing your own life transformed so that you can sparkle like a gemstone, shining much more brightly for Christ!
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Spend time praying with and for others who share their burdens with you. Watch how God works to transform their lives as they allow Him to sharpen them when you give God the opportunity to use you to be a part of that sharpening process.
Sparkler #2: Action
Think about the friends God has placed in your life. Choose one this week with whom you could spend some quality, face-to-face time over coffee or lunch, and see how God uses you to sharpen them in your conversation by sharing their burdens and giving them encouragement.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Establish the daily habit of reading the Bible, a two-edged sword, so that you may become sharpened. Knowing God’s Word will also cause the Scriptures you need to easily come to your mind when sharpening others.
*Raw citrine – photo credit: cobalt123
*Sword – photo credit: Rama
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