I spent part of Labour Day learning something new. I love learning new things.
This week, it was learning how to strop.
Not “stop” – it wasn’t a typo – “strop”.
In recent years, I have amassed a modest collection of pocket knives. Having a knife in my pocket is a handy thing, especially with the uncanny number of Amazon boxes that have shown up on my doorstep during the pandemic.
It’s also handy when there’s cheesecake. You never know when that might present itself.
But if one is going to have a pocket knife or two, one must also learn how to maintain them, and part of knife maintenance involves sharpening.
However, if I sharpened my knife every time I used it, before long, there’d be no steel left to cut with.
That’s why I’m learning how to strop. It involves infusing a piece of leather with a compound that I then rub my knife on. (If you were ever in a barber shop when you were young, and saw a chunk of leather hanging from the barber’s chair, that’s what he used to keep his straight razor keen between uses.)
Stropping a knife allows me to hone the edge without sharpening it. It’s sort of like a mini-sharpening between sharpenings. It keeps the knife useful, and safe…because a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife, whether you’re cutting packing boxes or chicken legs.
This has parallels with our faith life. Let’s say that coming to worship, confessing your sin, hearing the Word, and listening to the preaching is like sharpening your walk with the Lord.
But between Sundays, you can keep your walk with God ‘on edge’, as it were, by ‘stropping’ your faith. You do this through participation in a small group, through the daily reading of Scripture, through prayer, through acts of justice and kindness done in Jesus’ name and power.
If ever your faith feels dull, you can strop your faith between sharpenings, and find that your faith is quickened, built up, and ready for engagement. If you’re not doing that now, give it a try in the coming days. You won’t regret it.
“Using a dull ax requires great strength,
so sharpen the blade.
That’s the value of wisdom;
it helps you succeed” (Ecclesiastes 10.10, NLT).