Sharpening the Axe

A young man approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. “That depends,” replied the foreman. “Let’s see you fell this tree.” The young man stepped forward and skillfully felled a great tree.  Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, “You can start Monday!”

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday rolled by.  On Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your paycheck on the way out today.”  Startled, he replied, “I thought you paid on Friday.”  “Normally we do,” answered the foreman, “but we’re letting you go today because you’ve fallen behind.  Our daily felling charts show that you’ve dropped from first place on Monday to last on Wednesday.”

“But I’m a hard worker,” the young man objected.  “I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!”  The foreman, sensing the boy’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your ax?”  The young man replied, “I’ve been working too hard to take the time.”

(Illustration from William D. Boyd, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome).

Hopefully this young man learned the valuable lesson about keeping his axe sharp.  Interestingly, even Solomon spoke about the futility of working with a dulled tool: “If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength.  Wisdom has the advantage of giving success” (Ecclesiastes 10:10).

There is great value in keeping all of our tools sharp, especially our spiritual tools.  Tools like faith, love, prayer, Bible study, and church attendance.  Like the young man on the logging crew, we often use the excuse about being too busy and not having enough time to participate in these activities.  In this fast paced society, we must find the time.  When these aspects begin to fade in our lives, it is a sign that our spiritual tools are becoming dull.  Soon we begin fruitlessly working against ourselves.

Is it time to sharpen your spiritual axe?  As Solomon stated back in Ecclesiastes 10:10, we would be wise to keep ourselves sharp, because only then can we achieve spiritual success.

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