Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.  Proverbs 27:17 

          When I was in the corrections academy in 1989, the training staff wanted to show us how inmates would gradually gain our confidence especially when it involved the opposite sex. One of our instructors, a very nice-looking lady, had 4 or 5 five of the male recruit’s line up about 6 or seven feet from her. 

          She called the first man to come to her, and as the first man approached her, she greeted him very politely using his last name. “Good morning Officer Jones, how are you?” He returned the greeting and walked away. 

          She motioned for the next man and as he got close, she smiled and said, “Hi Officer, you look especially nice today!” Again, he said “Hello” and walked past her. The rest of us could see where things were going with this exercise. 

          When the next recruit got close, she leaned in to him and began to brush lint off of his shoulder and said, “Wow! You look really good this morning. Oh, you’ve got something on your uniform, let me get that for you.” She also gazed up at him with a big smile and patted him affectionately on the shoulder. 

          (Okay you know I’m a bit of a prankster) when my very good friend [and Brother in Christ] Matt, began to walk towards her and we knew things were about to really escalate, I said (in my best Elvis imitation), “Oh, hunka, hunka burnin’ looove!” 

          Every one laughed, including the instructor! Matthew, however, just looked at me like, “really??” 

          Yes, inmates looked for ways to compromise the officers. They would ask, and sometimes receive, for special privileges. “Hey Boss, I know you’re getting off in a couple minutes and I missed mail call. Would you mail this letter to my old lady on your way home?” Compromise!!! 

          Sounds innocent, doesn’t it? But then a few days later the same inmate comes up and asks, “Hey, Mario (subtle change in your relationship!), my woman bought me some shower shoes. Can she drop them off at your crib (trust me, they know where you live!) and you bring them in for me?” 

          If the officer acts reluctant then, “C’mon man, it’s just a pair of shower shoes! You already broke policy by mailing that letter for me (there’s the threat!).” 

          The officer finally agrees and brings the items in. Time goes by and the man thinks things have died down between them. Little does he know . . .  

          “Look man, my old lady is going to drop off a package of weed for you to bring in to me. You’re worried about that? Those shoes you brought in for me had coke in them so I might have to drop a dime on you to the sergeant if you don’t do what I tell you!” 



          Our enemy is always hounding us, trying to find a crack in our armor that he might exploit, get us to compromise. He will do anything to get us to feel guilty and once we feel guilty, we feel unworthy. We start missing services, we don’t answer calls or texts, and we avoid places where we know our brother and sisters frequent. 

          What are we to do? Yes, there is the Word and there is no denying the impact it has, yet I have discovered a truth about the verse I quoted above. The man I told the story of, Matt, is an extraordinary man. 

          We met on our way to the academy in August 1989 and it was as if we were brothers separated at birth. We liked the same style of music and had a love for the old hymns. On the 5-hour drive from Lewiston to Boise we shared our salvation experiences and how God had worked in our lives. 

          A bond was made as we roomed together for 5 weeks of academy. I often refer to him as “Matt Slover, my best (male) friend.” Here is the relationship that we have (though separated by miles): 

          He can ask me, “Are you compromising?” and expect a truthful answer and I know that I will not be judged by him! He will pray with and for me and offer what help he can; be it spiritual or physical. 

          At the same time, I can ask him, “Matt, are you compromising in any area?” and he knows that I will not judge him. Instead, I will lift him up in prayer, I will give him Godly counsel from the Word and stand beside him. 

          I can share anything with Matt – anything – and I have no fear of rejection, condemnation, or being made sport of. What a feeling of freedom! Our relationship has unbelievable value because it goes both ways! 

          Do we agree on everything? By no means, but those things we disagree on we do not allow to hinder the Brother in Christ relationship! 

          Find someone that builds you up rather than tears you down. Be an encourager yourself as you seek to find that one. And when you find them, cherish them! 

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