If the axe is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; But wisdom brings success. Ecclesiastes 10:10 NKJV
Everybody goes through seasons when life seems to lose its edge. They are the times when our efforts don’t seem to be producing desired results and our energies are waning. If you are living in a malaise and you’re feeling tired, this message just might be for you.
Success is a relative term and often seems illusive, but all of us want a measure of it in what we do with our lives. This verse addresses this conundrum and offers some practical advice in achieving it.
1. Success requires using the right tool for the job. In essence everyone has an axe, just the right tool for them. We just need to identify the axe in our life that God has given us. (Romans 12:3-6) Our ax is anything we’re good at and passionate about. What is yours?
Every man knows that to get a job done, whether working in the garage or out in the yard, you need the right tool. The right tool makes all the difference, especially if it is a power tool and it’s in good working order. I once had a Jonsered chainsaw with an 18” bar and that tool kept our fireplace amply fueled for winter. When the chain was sharpened it cut through oak like it was butter. Ah the joy, to feel the power and have the kids hauling and stacking wood like it was going out of style.
2. Success requires taking time to sharpen the axe. Sharpening anything requires stopping work and tending to the care of the tool. The more complex the tool or machine the longer it takes. How much more complex and important are we as human beings?
Practically speaking, this principle for success means taking regular breaks in our work regimen to allow the time necessary to renew our being, gain a fresh perspective and sharpen our focus. If we neglect to do this we will experience like any tool a loss of effectiveness and ultimately a breakdown. If God Himself rested and commanded a Sabbath, we had better take heed.
3. And finally, success requires wisdom. The Hebrew word for wisdom here is “chokmah” which means “wisdom in administration” or “skill.” Such wisdom or skill comes primarily through experience – with God and in life.
The only way to grow in the wise use of our axe by using it. And there is also a skill sharpening effect that comes by hanging out with others with similar gifts. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Instruction, feedback, fresh challenge and even correction, are all invaluable in developing our gift.
Wisdom can come through interaction with people, through classes, reading books and taking advantage of any resource that will help you grow in you’re the use of your gift.
When we fail to identify and use our gifts, or do not take time-outs to sharpen them, inevitably we lose our edge and end up living dull lives. The best remedy I know is to be proactive in adding to what God has given you. “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-9
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