Often relegated to the back of drawers, the garden shed or a workspace, pencils remain useful for sketching, making notes of measurements or other information that will be used later, maybe in a craft or do-it-yourself project, and for practicing handwriting.
Christ extrapolated everyday activities into parables and I am not the first to look at the potential teaching value of a pencil.
Learning from others
A pencil that is blunt or broken cannot perform its allotted task. To remain useful, it will require sharpening many times. If a pencil could feel, it would be the subject of a painful existence, being cut at regular intervals by either a knife, or the blade of a pencil sharpener. In some ways the Christian walk can be likened to repeated sharpening.
This is what happens when we spend time studying the Bible, with God in prayer or with others of like mind. We can sharpen ourselves, be sharpened by God or be sharpened by one another. Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (New International Version). We can discuss and listen to one another with empathy and love in our hearts like our Father. When we pray to Him, He listens intently, and with mercy and grace, He gently molds or, depending on the need, sharpens us into the son or daughter He wants us to be.
I have personally been through many resharpening circumstances in my life and without my family, friends and congregation I might have failed to recover. Yet all these events were a blessing from God to help me grow.
Through these experiences which sometimes can be so painful, we grow little by little, so never lose your sharpness and zeal for God’s way of life. When Christ returns in glory all you have learned will prove useful!
On the end of some pencils is an eraser which is used to correct any mistakes one has made. Our lives are filled with mistakes and sins, whether words, actions or attitudes, but just like all those who have gone before us, if we repent and each day work on the things that we may be doing wrong, with God’s help and mercy we can correct them and overcome.
James, Christ’s half-brother, wrote: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).
Our calling and experiences now are preparing us to be kings and priests under Christ during the Millennium, and then in the Great White Throne Judgment period when we shall be able to teach all those who never heard of Christ or who never understood His calling in this present age of mankind’s rule. You will be able to comfort and teach and help each person to see what life should really be without the blinding of the nations that Satan has caused.
Our destiny is to be literal Spirit-born children of God. During this present physical lifetime God’s Spirit helps us overcome human nature and become more like Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:2-4). At His return and the first resurrection, we can help Him rebuild this broken world.
Leave a positive impression
Like a pencil we leave a trace wherever we go. We are always on public display and should leave a positive impression on everyone with whom we interact. We are to reflect our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ with our conduct and speech every day of our lives. This can prove difficult.
To be able to teach the people who will rise in the resurrection of judgment we will need to understand how marks can hurt and stain a person and we will need the greatest power God has to give to help them: His love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reads, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (NIV).
A soft center
The most important part of any pencil is what is inside. Often referred to as the lead, pencils actually contain graphite. This naturally occurring form of crystalline carbon can also be manufactured from coal. It is extremely soft, and splits with light pressure, as when writing with a pencil on paper.
Every time we pray or study the Bible we learn how better to emulate Christ. Every Sabbath day we are being molded into a godlier person through the verses read and explained from the Bible. Philippians 2:1-4 states: “Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (NIV).
When Christ returns, we will need all these attributes to help right the wrongs in this world and teach the people who will have the opportunity to know God and Christ, and be taught, nurtured and saved by Christ. So, let us continue to sharpen ourselves and one another in love, repent of past mistakes and move forward in grace and knowledge of God’s love. Wherever we go and in all we do or say, let us leave a positive impression on others, reflecting God’s love. Above all, let us mirror the shining example of our Savior Jesus Christ and fully embrace His character. What we are in our hearts is what God sees.