“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (KJV)
“Countenance”:… As I look at Strong’s, I would have to say that the meaning is “the part that shows.” That’s what I am struggling with, “the part of me that shows.” I only looked this up just now, and that only in relationship to you, to try to explain what I have in mind. Turns out the passage says what I wanted to say better even than I understood it. The word is used in association with shewbread. The word there for bread is translated from the original word meaning something to eat, either bread or grain. Some years ago now I was working on a book chapter titled “GOOD FOOD BAD FOOD. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees.”
What we are on our face, is what we feed to others. By getting in each others face, it is possible to make each other more edible, more nourishing, more fruitful.
“Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.” In the original, the root word from which the word “sea” comes is salt. Revelation 17:15 tells us that “The waters you saw…. are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.” ” We are the salt of the earth…” Our transparency is our savor, “the part that shows” Webster puts it this way, “that quality of a thing which acts on the sense of taste or of smell.”
Paul puts it this way, and in this instance, THE MESSAGE translation is really clear – 2 Corinthians 2:12-3:6 – “When I arrived in Troas to proclaim the message of the Messiah, I found the place wide open: God had opened the door; all I had to do was walk through it. But when I didn’t find Titus waiting for me with news of your condition, I couldn’t relax. Worried about you, I left and came on to Macedonia province looking for Titus and a reassuring word on you. And I got it, thank God.
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breath in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation-an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No- but at least we don’t take God’s Word, watered down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.
Does it sound like we are patting ourselves on the back, insisting on our credentials, asserting our authority? W ell, we’re not. Neither do we need letters of endorsement, either to you or from you. You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it- not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives- and we publish it.
We couldn’t be more sure of ourselves in this- that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation. We wouldn’t think of writing this kind of letter about ourselves. Only God can write such a letter. His letter authorizes us to help carry out this new plan of action. The plan wasn’t written out with ink on paper, with pages and pages of legal footnotes, killing the spirit. It’s written with the Spirit on spirit, his life on our lives!”
Interesting connection to ‘countenance’ and the shewbread! Looked it up…and shewbread means “the bread of faces” or “the bread of His presence”. Not sure of all it means, but there’s definitely something there, and your post is very enlightening!