Run from…, run to… flee (run from) temptation but pursue, run after, righteousness, … etc. We are running a race but notice we are not meant to run this race alone. We are to be running with others – “along with” other believers. The NLT translates it like this, “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” We are to choose our associations carefully (those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart), but we are to associate with others in our Christian walk.
Our pursuit of the Lord is not a “Lone Ranger”, “Me and Jesus Got Our Own Thing Going” affair. A believer who chooses to isolate himself from the Body of Christ will not grow to be a balanced, healthy believer any more than any human being who is cut off from outside contact grows to be balanced and well adjusted. We need each other. God designed it that way. It is not good that man be alone.
Following Jesus is more than just a matter of believing it is a matter of belonging – belonging to His Bride, His Body, His Church. In those “iron sharpens iron” relationships God applies heat and friction to our life, like we do to a knife when sharpening it, to sharpen us, rub off rough spots and smooth offensive aspects of our nature and character.
A knife that pulls away from the whetstone every time there is friction, or it gets hot or uncomfortable, will remain with a dull edge. Something will always be missing, incomplete. A believer that pulls away from relationship every time they are disappointed or their needs are not met or they are challenged, will remain dull, weak in their spiritual life. Something will always be missing, incomplete.
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.