[As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.]
Have you ever wondered why we do not talk about gold in the same way we do iron or steel? An ounce of gold can cost almost $1,500. Gold is a luxury item, used in jewelry and expensive goods. I could buy a ton (literally) of iron for about $70. Wouldn’t we want to be like gold? Wouldn’t we want our faiths and ourselves to be to shine and glimmer, to be something sought after? However, throughout the bible our faith, our reward, our body is referred to as anything BUT gold. It’s like gold has received this bad reputation. Gaudy, extravagant, something only some people can get.
See there is the problem. A faith like gold alludes to a faith that is available to the spiritually rich. A faith like gold compromises the biblical idea that we all have access and the ability to receive Christ’s reward and to HAVE faith. During Ancient Rome (and even prior to that) most swords and other weapons were made of iron because it was something that even the poor could afford and use (yes, I am aware the picture above features steel products rather than iron, unfortunately I don’t have any iron broadswords lying around for a photo-op). In the Bible or faith is compared to iron because even the poor in spirit had access to it and can utilize it. The beauty of gold is outweighed by God’s desire for everyone to be able to afford faith in Him. God does not care about the beauty of our faith and spirit but that we are able to have it. And that we are able to carry our faith into battle when we are called to.
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
[1 Peter 1:6-7]
For anybody who has ever taken a chemistry class might know gold’s physical properties. Gold is a very soft metal, it is very malleable. Gold also has a melting point of around 1,900°F. On the other hand iron is a strong metal and much harder to scratch, mold, or break. The melting point of iron is about 1,000°F HIGHER than that of gold. I’m not trying to give you a chemistry lesson, but further shed light on why we should rejoice with our faiths like iron. 1 Peter, in the verses above, say two things about our faith, they are more precious than gold, and they are tested by fire. If our faith is like iron then we can praise and give glory to God knowing that iron-like faith has a higher tolerance to the trials of fire than a faith like gold. God does not compare our faith to something like iron to detest those whom wish for gold, but to show us that we can bear the heat of trials if we take on the properties of iron rather than of gold. It is a way of showing that what society considers valuable is not what God considers of value.
Lastly, with iron faith God is equipping us to take on spiritual warfare. From those who persecute us, to the devil in our heads telling us we are not good enough. Imagine a Roman soldier, going into battle. He is not a wealthy man so he cannot afford the best, but he has his trusty iron sword. It is worn form battles passed. It is dingy, chipped, even slightly dulled. As the battle turns nasty he finds himself against an opponent. Clearly wealthy, the opposition is clad in gold, not golden, but gold. The hilt of his sword is encrusted with jewels and the blade is gold through-and-through. The shear look of him makes the Roman soldier discouraged. How could his dingy iron sword compare to the magnificence of gold. As they clash, strike after strike something happens. The gold sword of the opponent begins to crack and break. One more strike and the sword completely shatters.
Although the opponent with a gold sword looked more put together and worthy of victory than the Roman soldier with his dingy iron sword, the Roman soldier still was triumphant. Although iron can became drab and worn, an iron swords integrity is far stronger than gold. A gold sword will shatter in battle. God knows that our faith, our spiritual life is not perfect. It is not beautiful and put together. Our faiths generally look more like the iron sword, I know mine does. It is a mess, dingy, and sometimes even dull. However if we put on an act of a faith like gold, we will lose every time. Although my faith can, and will be, dulled I know I can rely on those with iron faith to help sharpen it again, so that when I am headed into the battle of spiritual warfare I know I will be victorious. God compares our faith to iron to show us that we do not have to be perfect and beautiful to serve Him.