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Swordsmithing

by Tim O'Hearn

I have a dagger, but it is purely decorative. The edge of its blade is extremely dull. I know another who possesses a very nice sword, which is also, unfortunately, quite dull. These blades do not have an edge for safety sake. Were they properly sharpened they would be extremely dangerous to have around. They are good to look at, but they do not serve the purpose for which they should be expected to have been made.

How often do we meet people who are just like those swords? They look quite nice, but have no practical use to God. Some of them may even think they are ďgoodĒ people. They perform good deeds. They donate their money to important causes. Because they have never placed themselves in Godís hands we judge that they are merely decoration in this life. While I would like to see them become useful weapons for God, they are not the ones that scare me the most. Having no edge, they can do limited damage in the hands of the Adversary.

Everyone who has ever handled a weapon should know that the most important thing is that you keep it in working order. When I handle a sword on stage I donít expect to cut anyone because I donít sharpen the blade. But if I were to try to use a sword in a real life-or-death situation, I would want it to be sharp. God wants his weapons to be sharp. It doesnít matter as much if the devilís weapons are dull, but it matters a great deal if his are.

Making a proper sword is a long, painstaking process. The swordsmith must make the right kind of steel for the blade. Some smiths take as much as twenty tons of raw material to make one ton of properly carbonized steel. Then comes the process of forging. Heat is applied, but never to the point of melting the metal. The swordsmith then hammers a piece of metal into the right shape, sometimes folding the metal and reshaping it many times. In fact, the more a blade is folded in forging, the more pure the steel. Different parts of the blade require different characteristics, and so may need to be forged more or less diligently. This folding and forging requires almost constant pounding with a hammer, frequent reheating, and more hammering. Finally the sword is reheated and then baptized. The hot blade is plunged into cold water to temper it. This is the point at which many swords are ruined because they break. Once this process is completed the blade is polished, in a multi-week process that further sharpens the edge.

God is a master swordsmith. He wants us to be flexible when struck, but able to maintain a sharp edge. He wants us to last through many a battle. To that end he wants to forge us. It is a painful process, that forging. We must be pounded and heated, and pounded again. Sometimes we may feel like we are merely being beaten up, but in fact God wants us to be beaten down. We can only become sharp if we let him work with us.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into various trials; Knowing that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (Jas 1:2-4)

The problem with being forged into a weapon for God is that we have a choice. We can be forged, or we can sit around and just become decorative. Many Christians want to quit when God applies the heat and the hammer. Enduring the work of the swordsmith, however, makes us into the weapon God can wield to good effect. We will be both decorative and functional.