Discourse: A Parable
Once upon a time in a village near you, there lived a townsperson with a knife. Well, he didnâ€™t have just a knife. He had several, actually. But his knives were dull. So, one day, he set out to seek a sharpener.
On his way through town, he happened upon another townsperson, who also happened to have a knife. Well, actually, he had other knives too, but none of them were sharp either. After a few minutes conversation, they decided to go together to see if they could find a sharpener.
As they traveled through town, the two townspersons came across another townsperson, and then another, who were also plagued by dull knives. Finally, the First Townsperson spoke up. â€œThis has got to end. Dull knives have now reached epidemic proportions. The body of townspersons is suffering from an overwhelming lack of sharpiness. We need a Sharper Shop.â€
The response from the townspersons was overwhelming. Some of them created cute little slogans for themselves. Others waved their dull knives over their heads. Still others clamored for change and tolerance. Finally, the second townsperson spoke up. â€œFirst Townsperson, you have really struck on an idea,â€ he said. A hush settled over the raucous crowd. Dull knives glinted in the sunlight. â€œI move that we elect First Townsperson to chair a new Committee for the Promotion of Sharper Knives.â€ A murmur of approval greeted the statement. â€œFirst Townsperson, we hereby anoint you head of the Knife Sharpeners.â€ And the other townspeople roared their approval.
The next day, First Townsperson put out a sign on main street. â€œSharper Shopâ€ it read. That day, a stream of townspersons made their way over to the Sharper Shop, dull knives in hand. There at Sharper Shop, fuzzy new towels were handed around, and townspersons diligently polished their dull knives to a very high gloss. Some townspersons even stayed past midnight, so diligent were they to polish those knives.
The next day and the next, the crowds grew larger, and the polishing more feverish. Then one day, a stranger rode through town. Seeing the sign for Sharper Shop, he took his sword and went in. He pulled out his sword, and looked around for the grinder where he could sharpen his sword. He looked and looked. Finally, he asked one of the bystanders to point him in the right direction. The bystander looked at him in confusion. â€œYou must be a stranger around here,â€ he said. And then he handed him a towel.
The newcomer looked at his sword, looked at the towel, and then quietly walked back outside and rode down the street. A few days later, he was back. â€œHey, one of you guys help me for a second,â€ he said. In a few moments, he and some others lugged in a heavy stone, and placed it on a table. For a few moments, the townspeople watched as the stranger set up the grinding stone. Then, he took out his sword and began to grind. Sparks were flying. Some townspeople let out a low whistle. Others shielded their eyes. Still others put down their towels, and lined up behind the stranger. When he was done, they stepped up with their dull knives, and when they stepped away, the knives were sharper. In the days that followed, more and more people lined up to sharpen their dull knives. Sparks flew, voices raised, and dull knives lost some of their dullness. Things were as they should have been at Sharper Shop.
But then one day, some began to complain about the sparks. Others began to complain about the noise. Still others griped about the smell. In response, some started to grind harder. “You don’t like the way the grinding sounds,” they said? “Well, how about this!” Then, they started grinding knives for the sake of grinding. They made bigger sparks, they made more noise, and they successfully annoyed the townspersons. They would grind and grind and grind for the fun of grinding. And all the while, their blades wore thinner and thinner and thinner. Finally, one ground his blade down to almost nothing.
And that was when First Townsperson stepped in. “Enough already!” he said, and kicked out the primary offender. A murmur rippled through the Sharper Shop, but soon the townspersons were back to their grinding. While they were grinding, a few of the townspersons clustered in a corner and started muttering something about the stranger, the grinder, the sparks, and the smoke. They took their complaint to the Committee for the Promotion of Sharper Knives. Some of the men with dull knives noticed what they were doing, and, embarrassed, stopped their grinding. But the stranger kept right on grinding.
Finally, First Townsperson cleared his throat, stepped up to the stranger, and whispered something in his ear. The stranger stopped, and without another glance, picked up his sword and disappeared.
Things were quiet at Sharper Shop for a while after that. Some of the men commented about the sudden disappearance of the stranger. Others stood around the grinding wheel. â€œI never liked the smell anyway,â€ said one of the men. â€œMe neither,â€ said another. â€œGood riddance,â€ said a third. They picked up their fuzzy towels again. â€œBesides,â€ they said, â€œthey made too many sparks.â€ WE are a Christian Sharper Shop.
Seldom again were the sounds of grinding heard at the Sharper Shop. But, dull as they were, those knives sure were shiny!
The Moral: If iron would sharpen iron, both must be iron.