Bible Study Tools / Relationships

Shaving Was An Art

by Robert Berendt
Photo by Christoffer Engström on Unsplash

I recall the days when shaving was an art. A barber would place a hot cloth on a man’s face to soften the facial hair, lather the areas to be shaved, hone the straight edge of his blade and with deft practiced strokes proceed to shave his customer. He seemed to be able to adjust to faces with sensitive or normal skin, light, heavy or medium beards and faces of all shapes. It was rare that the barber would nick or cut a man. My dad shaved at home and he always seemed to get a nick on his face.

Things have changed in this area of life and some lessons that could be easily learned have to be found elsewhere. Razors come as disposable blades that cannot be sharpened now. Shaving cream is designed for sensitive or normal skin. You have to try pretty hard to cut yourself - and if a nick does happen - it usually is due to waiting too long to dispose of the disposable razor. Electric razors have been developed that take care of any beard and that require no expertise. The spinning blades are flexible enough to match the most angular jaw and shaving has become anything but an art.

I noticed that my shaving cream is for “normal” skin. One wonders why all the differences among skin types. When we consider skin type, hair density, level of oils, facial shapes and factors such as pimples or sore spots - we can see that people are truly different. A barber who was an artist would make the adjustments.

People are all unique in how they react or cope with the problems of life. People can be sensitive or “thick skinned’ we would say. They can be bruised or full of sores and we all need to learn to be an “artist” in dealing with one another. Even the most expert barber had to learn to shave different faces and his keen edge may have slipped from time to time. Barbers are trusted to use the sharpest of all blades right on the throat of their customers. No doubt the barber was very careful and even then more than one jittery customer would have leaped out of the chair in anger or concern.

How expert are you when it comes to dealing with people? They too are vulnerable. Are we striving to learn how to be an artist in dealing with others? Do we choose our words carefully? The tongue is likened to a sword and we need to learn how to use it carefully (Proverbs 12:18, Revelation 2:16). Interacting with one another is also an art. James says that we all offend or “nick” others (James 3:8-10). Our words are grievous weapons and can do much damage. They can also give the nice clean and happy feeling that a really good shave brings for a man. We need to learn to recognize sensitive skin, dull blades and coarse hair. We need to become skillful with our interactions. Some customers’ reaction to pain can be violent. That is the way most people react to pain - they often lash out at the one responsible for the cut. Once nicked, only a fool or brave man would go back for a second time. A brother once offended is very hard to win back (Proverbs 18:19).

How sensitive is your skin? Are you easily offended? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 tells us God expects us to overcome our sensitivities. We may have reasons for being sensitive. All of them need to be resisted and overcome. It is not good enough to say: “that’s how I was born.” This is a responsibility that a sensitive person has to overcome. Jesus Christ expects you to do just that. It will take an honest effort of self-examination and perhaps the help of an unbiased but competent person to change your course, but you can do it - or God would not demand it of you. Some years ago my wife had her fingers badly damaged. The repair was good, but left a nerve quite exposed. Her daily task was to continue to rub that exposed nerve gently each day so that it would become a little less sensitive. With time the nerve seemed to develop a “thicker skin.”

How gentle are we? Are we gentle with those whose skin is sensitive? We are all human and all make mistakes. It is far better to err on the side of love, patience and tolerance, than to err on the side of frustration, anger and rebuke.

The wonder of it all is that God wants us to find the balance. We need to overcome our sensitivity if it is a barrier to growth and we need to become artists in dealing with one another in order to love each other. He does not do the work for us - but He gives us the direction and He will provide help at the right time. We are all warriors against anything that will keep us from the promise God gives of eternal life. Paul said that we ought to “fight” correctly (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

We are to put on the “new man” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:4). If we practice, we will become that new man - we will change. Change is the result of a continuous effort in doing or being that which we would aspire to become. It is sort of like shaving yourself every day with a straight razor. If you ever had the chance to do that - you would soon realize how careful you must be until you become expert. By being careful, you become an expert.

When we carefully shave ourselves every day, we are aware of sore spots, a dull blade or anything else that may make us uncomfortable. We resolve to be more careful. So the lesson is learned and driven home of how to shave - how to interact with people. Little by little, each day that we hold our tongue, think about who we are and what we are about to say, and practice patience and self-control, we will become artists who are far more effective and important than one who simply shaves another face.

We will learn to recognize sensitive skin and choose the right lotion. We will understand the value of a hot cloth to soften the facial hair. We will change and become experts—much better than what we were. We will also strive to lessen the ease with which we may be offended. We will take care of our “skin” so we can make the job of the “barber” easier. Best of all, we will be developing the kind of character that Almighty God demands in those who are to be entrusted with an inheritance that surpasses our wildest dreams.

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