Sharpening the Saw

Stephen Covey makes an interesting analogy or application when he refers to the Sabbath principle as “sharpening the saw.” He penned the following: Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. “What are you doing?” you ask. “Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.” “You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?” “Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.” “Well why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?” you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.” “I don’t have time to sharpen the saw.” The man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!” So often we fail to pause or stop to sharpen the saw for that which is necessary. Accordingly, I share just three suggestions with you.

Sharpening the Saw of Daily Devotion
According to Mark 1:35, Jesus rose early in the morning, “a great while before day” to commune with His Father. And Ellen White adds, “if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer” (SC 93.4). Prayer meant much to Jesus, as He valued His time with God. Therefore He would not miss out on the opportunity to spend such quality time with His father. So what about us? How often do we pray? Time spent in prayer will prove beneficial in many ways. To put it bluntly, I cannot get along without it; so each day, therefore, I pause to talk with God so as to sharpen my saw.

Sharpening the Saw of Time for Family and Others
The Bible says that a man who fails to provide for his family is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8, NKJV). Many of our societal ills unfortunately stem from a poorly managed family, or a family where mom or dad is too busy for children or each other. The demand of earning is real, as there are bills to pay and a standard of living to maintain. However, if we fail to learn how to manage time or create balance, we will make the funds; pay the bills but risk losing our children or marriage. I am reminded of a story I heard of a youngster who asked, “Daddy how much do you make an hour?” The father thinking that it was not his son’s business quipped, “Why do you want to know? Go to your bed.” A few minutes later the father’s heart was touched, so he decided to tell him, “I make $10 an hour.” In response the boy asked his father to lend him $5, and he got his piggy bank and took out $5 to make up the difference to pay for one hour. The point has been made; children and spouses need quality time.

Sharpening the Saw of Church Attendance
The writer to the Hebrews says that it is important that we make time for church attendance. He states, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25, NKJV). Many are the benefits to be derived from church attendance. Among them are spiritual growth and nurturing and having the opportunity to engage in a useful ministry of serving others and the community. This can be very fulfilling.
So “sharpening the saw” is essential for life. It is like oxygen to the soul. The follower of Christ cannot survive without it. Furthermore, consider that each weekend humanity is presented with a day comprising of 24 hours known as the Sabbath. To some, it is called the Lord’s Day. Unfortunately, there are many who feel that to take time off for worship on God’s Sabbath will disadvantage them. Such persons have yet to understand the way and manner God works. Instead of time lost, one will see time gained in taking the time off “to sharpen the saw.” It is when we pull away from the mundane that we grow in grace and in favor with God. Are you pausing to sharpen the saw, or are you too busy to stop?