What do you think is the most dangerous occupation in the world? Soldier? Test pilot? Police officer? Fire fighter? Bomb squad? In terms of fatalities per number of labors employed, some have said it is crab ship fisherman (go figure).
Well, Solomon is addressing that subject in Ecc. 10:9-10; where he is speaking of occupational hazards. He says:
“He who quarries stones is hurt by them, and he who splits logs is endangered by them. If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.”
In verse nine Solomon is saying that quarrying stones is fraught with danger. Chips of stones can break off and embed themselves in your eye or other parts of the body. When handling a huge stone, it can slip or get away from the workers and crush someone. Quarrying stones can be dangerous.
So too can splitting wood. Lumberjacking is a dangerous occupation. On a much smaller scale, I have split a good number of logs for firewood during my day. The force with which a piece of wood can split off from the main log and become a projectile is considerable. At times I have “missed the mark” with the ax and come close to hitting my foot or leg.
As Christians, we have been called to the “occupation” of being a Christian. This being true, verse 10 now becomes a stunning admonition; we cannot afford to “chop with a dull ax”. If we do, we will be found to be flailing away at the “occupation” God has given us, expending precious time and energy inefficiently. We will chop, and chop, and chop and get less and less accomplished for the Lord because our ax is dull. Better to take the time and sharpen the ax before we get to the wood chopping.
This of course speaks to our preparation and education. When a father gives a son the task of cutting wood, the inclination of the son is to just “get at it”. He does not want to “waste time” sharpening the ax. That time sharpening the ax is not getting the wood cut as far as the son thinks. Ah, but what he doesn’t realize is that he will be able to get more done ultimately with a well sharpened ax.
This is why it is so important for the believer to be well trained and discipled…to sharpen your ax so to speak, so that you won’t spend years and years flailing away and wasting time and energy trying to get the wood chopped.
Here at Berean we are committed to doing everything we can to “sharpen” your ax so that you will be prepared to actually do gospel ministry in such a way that you will be able to chop as much wood as possible and as effectively as you can. It is why we preach exegetically, expositionally, and theologically. It is why we have a robust Sunday School program from nursery to elderly. It is why we disciple theologically. It is why we train teachers, both men and women, how to handle and rightly divide the Word of Truth. It is why we believe in “advanced Christianity” rather than being satisfied with “remedial Christianity 101” and strive to bring everyone to a level of maturity in Christ that will affect both the way they live and the way they serve.
Remind yourself of these verses often; especially when you are called out again on a cold winter night to a discipleship class or a training session. The time you spend sharpening your ax will save you from malpractice, inefficiency, and the dangers so inherent to doing God’s work in this world without being prepared.