This week is a special week for Sherman and Denison high school football fans. It's the annual Battle of the Axe. (If you're not from Denison then just think of your high school's biggest rivalry and you have an idea of what I'm talking about.) I'm not sure of the origins of the rivalry and why an axe is emblematic of that rivalry, but the occasion prompted me to do a little search through the Bible for any references to axes. (I'm a preacher, that's how my mind works!) I thought there were and lo and behold I discovered "Ax" is found 8 times in the New International Version while "Axe" is found 11 times. I have no clue why there are two spellings of this word, but that is for another time and place. Anyway, my search revealed no mention of Bearcats and Yellowjackets, but one reference especially seemed relevant to Christians like you and me.
Solomon, or whoever wrote Ecclesiastes, makes several observations about the world we live in and one of them has to do with an ax. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says," If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success." (NIV) I like the New Living Translation that reads, "Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed." I also like the New Century Version's rendering: "A dull ax means harder work. Being wise will make it easier."
I've probably swung an ax fewer times than I've been to the Battle of the Axe but I have had some experience with dullness (no pun intended). A blade, whether it be on a knife or a saw, makes work so much easier when it is sharpened rather than being dull. Sharpening a blade may not seem to be accomplishing anything but it really does. It makes the work we do easier.
Some people see going to church, listening to sermons, singing religious songs, and all the other things we do when we get together on Sunday as a waste of time. Au contraire! Worship and Bible study is kind of like sharpening our axes, and as we get sharper we'll find our job, whatever that may be, a little easier the rest of the week.
The Battle of the Axe may be this Friday in Texomaland, but really every week is a battle and every week we need to be as sharp as possible! I hope when you go to worship you leave a little sharper than you were when you came, because let's face it, most of us can't afford to get any duller!