Let his conscience be clear and far-seeing, let it be humble and without pride...Let him be steadfast and without a shadow of weakness; let him be like an anvil in his support of every profitable thing. Let him be the servant of everyone, and let him take the responsibility of everyone's sins upon himself.
- Anonymous, The Rule of Ailbe (Irish, 7th century)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who guards his master will be honored.
- Proverbs 27.17, 18
What kind of person would you like to have rub off on you? The Rule of Ailbe appears to be addressed to one who aspired to become part of a community of brethren, men living, praying, eating, working, and growing together. Ailbe provides a list of the kind of character traits a true soul friend must have if he is to benefit all those with whom he shares community.
We're all familiar with the "iron sharpens iron" proverb, and it contains a good deal of truth: if we are sharp and pure and devoted to one another, we can truly make one another sharper and even more pure.
But it's the 18th verse that speaks to me of the value of a soul friendship. If we cultivate the virtues of Christ and the life of the Spirit in others, we will benefit from the Christlikeness they achieve as they minister to us in His Name. And if we guard, shield, and protect those who have entrusted their souls to us, we will be honored by them and by the Lord.
So as you seek out a soul friend, look for someone who will agree to the terms of both of these proverbs, who will have the strength of an anvil to bear up under the blows of adversity, and who will devote himself in service to you just as you agree to be devoted to him in love.
Such friendships are few and far between in our day, but they are so valuable and precious once you discover them. Husbands and wives, begin with one another. Deepen your relationship and your love by committing to the sharpening and shaping of one another's souls so that Christ is more perfectly formed in each of you. Then seek a soul friend - men with men and women with women - who will help you to grow deeper and stronger in your walk and ministry with the Lord.
You will both benefit from your mutual devotion, and Christ will be honored before all who know you.
Today in ReVision: The Politics of Presumption - Does God bless simply because a president demands it?
This Week's Download: Soul Friends - Make copies for prospective soul friends and see how the Lord might lead.
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