One Man Sharpens the Other
“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”(Proverbs 27:17)
Fellowship is perhaps one of the sweetest words ever invented. Most often, we take the term fellowship and wrap it in the context of some kind of “church” setting where we have a “fellowship meal,” or “enjoy the fellowship” of an evening together and things of that nature. It is very true that the word fellowship works for all these things, but it is much broader than that.
The word “fellowship” comes from the Greek word KOINONIA. This is a very special word, and is used in such a broad range of thinking, it seems a shame to lock it down to only something we do when we are at the assembly and assembly-related functions together. This word is defined as these terms: communion, fellowship, sharing in common. This word is a form of the word KOINOS, which simply means to have something in common.
We’ve taken the term communion and used it almost totally in discussion and practice of the Lord’s Supper. It’s fine to call the Lord’s Supper communion, as long as we know that the word is deeper, or may we say, broader than that.
For instance, when two of you have a Bible Study together, you could very easily use the word communion to illustrate the closeness and the commonness of the experience. Paul used it that way in the discussion of light and darkness as well as the Christians with the god Baal.
Fellowship, communion and sharing are concepts that envelope life. When someone is struggling with some situation in life and we lend ourselves for support, it is fellowship. When someone expresses a joy to you and shares some kind of good news with you, you are in fellowship.
Another way this word is used is the term partnership. Paul spoke to the brothers at Philippi about their “partnership” in the gospel. It’s true that some of the Philippian brethren physically participated with Paul in the spreading of the gospel. They were there. They actually went with him. On the other hand, Paul made it very clear that their financial support for the work of spreading the Good News was also partnership, communion.
When we share with one another something we have, it is called fellowship, partnership or communion. This sharing might be financial. It could be a word of encouragement. It could very well be a loving, listening, supportive shoulder to cry on when you need one. It always involves someone else.
Then you take the concepts behind this word and apply them to God. Communion with God is not some church ritual that we plug into in an attempt to “fulfill” His requirements. The Lord’s Supper, or communion, as we call it, is a time when we can sit down with the Lord and remember how He served us. We remember how He gave His body to serve us in sacrifice. We remember how He gave His blood to provide atonement for our sins, and how He served us in that selfless act of sacrifice. We then are stimulated to serve one another and continue the kind of fellowship that God continues to extend to us.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we need one another. We need to be the iron that sharpens our brother or our sister in the Lord. We need one another. There is no retreat. There is no place for selfishness and a self-serving spirit. We must grow to understand that we cannot “serve God” without loving and serving one another.
When people begin backing away from the assemblies they lose touch with the needs and the direction of their brothers. If we were together daily as the early Christians were, this would not be so true, but we are not… and that’s a fact. We need each other. Not only that, we need each other’s weaknesses as well as each other’s strengths.
If we ever really capture the concept of fellowship and put it into practice the way the Lord practices it with us, we would be one united and powerful force on the earth to reckon with.
I know very few thieves who steal money and other tangible goods from others, but I do know a host of people who steal something more precious than gold almost every week of their lives. These robbers break in and steal fellowship every time they miss an opportunity to be together with those of like faith.
There has been a burning question since AD. 33: Do I have to attend all the assemblies to go to heaven? Will I go to hell if I don’t. You’ve heard those questions and perhaps, you may have even asked them, but you see, they are the wrong questions. They are centered in YOU, not others. You might better ask it this way. “Would Garry’s soul be in jeopardy if I refuse my fellowship? There is only one answer!