He could make so many wonderful toys with his knife because he took care of his knife. He regularly sharpened it.
Later I spent a lot of time with knives. I was a professional meat cutter for 31 years. (I retired in 1991.)
When I was 30 years old I served an apprenticeship in the retail meat business. I learned how to cut up cattle and turn them into steaks, roasts and other cuts.
When I was working as a meat cutter I had to work with large chunks of meat. That is not generally true of retail meat cutters today.
Most of the stores today receive meat prepackaged in smaller sizes. Years ago the retail market worked with the entire animal.
Giving meat a weigh
The frontquarter (a quarter of the animal) weighed 80-110 pounds. The meat that came from the frontquarter was the chuck steaks and chuck roasts.
The rib of beef weighed 25-30 pounds. The meat that came from this section was standing rib roasts.
The loin of beef weighed 40-50 pounds. The meat that came from this section was sirloin steaks, porterhouse steaks and T-bone steaks. (The highest-priced section of the animal is the tenderloin meat, which comes from only three to four pounds of the animal.)
This type of work meant we had an assortment of knives.
It was important to learn to use them properly.
But it was also vital to learn to take care of them.
Some of my coworkers neglected their knives, and their neglect showed up in their workmanship.
There were times when their neglect of their equipment affected their production.
The cuts of meat were not smoothly and evenly cut.
Our business had an important rule: Never use another person's knives.
Some of the workers took such good care of their knives they knew immediately if someone had used their knife, if only for a short while.
What can we learn about helping a friend from the simple physical act of sharpening a knife?
I have chosen three points for this comparison:
Do we have a strong desire to help people stay on the cutting edge of the Kingdom of God?
Jesus said our words reflect our heart (Matthew 12:34). If we want our words to edify other people, our heart must be right.
When we sharpen a knife, what is its condition? What is the quality of steel in the knife? What type of stone should we use: fine, medium or coarse? We will want to remove only as little metal as necessary.
In 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 Paul wrote about the importance of understanding other people before trying to help them.
We have different heredities, different past environments and different present environments. We are all different personalities with different strengths and weaknesses.
The cutting edge of a knife is usually maintained with a special tool called a steel.
The steel, which is magnetized, is drawn back and forth over the edge of the knife to create a fine, sharp edge.
People sometimes used a powerful magnifying glass to see when the edge was still a little too rough. At that point it needed gentler steeling.
Paul wrote about the importance of choosing the right words:
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt; that you may know how you ought to answer every man" (Colossians 4:6).
In our lives it is not necessarily what type of job we did that we remember. Rather, we call on the good memories from the associations and relationships of the people we worked with.
That's why as we grow older it is nice to go to reunions and retirement parties to rekindle memories.
God is in the people business. He is interested in every one of us.