The world has become a place filled with gray spaces.
It doesn’t take much to be swayed to other people’s opinions. In school, we are taught this is a good thing. Empathize. Consider other perspectives. Open your mind and your heart. Please, go ahead and follow your heart. That’s the only way you’ll know you’re doing what is right.
Yes, we are called to love and understand others unique perspectives, but is this what should guide us if we are Christians? As church planter’s wives, people look to us weekly, sometimes daily, to help speak into their lives. Should we join the rest of the world in offering a sugar wafer thin foundation upon which to build? Sugar wafers are yummy. They have that sweet, creamy layer in between each crunchy cookie, and this makes us feel happy. But–God has not called us to participate in this kind of crumbling culture.
We need a rock solid foundation. More like a burnt ginger snap–not really. But keep reading…
What are we supposed to do instead?
Put on the full armor of God. As Christians, we have heard it is important to do this. We might even tell others it’s a good idea to do this. But do we do this?
I have recently been creating a plan for the second book in my young adult novel series about a pastor’s daughter who gets involved in some dark stuff. In creating this plan for book two, I have thought carefully about how critical it will be for her to put on the full armor of God before she goes into battle. Reflecting on my own personal spiritual battles God places me in, I wonder if I am careful about donning the entire suit? A reflection on the whole armor will be useful to all of us…
First of all, let’s look at where this advice comes from. In the book of Ephesians, we are instructed how to wear the whole armor of our God. This is what it says in chapter six beginning in verse ten…
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:10-20 ESV)
We are truly in a battle for souls. Because of this, we must fight to daily put on the whole armor of God. Let’s look at the armor, one piece at a time.
- Belt of Truth: During Roman military times, the belt was a critical piece to the uniform. The belt kept the entire uniform together, and from it hung weapons. Without a belt, the soldier would have nowhere to hang his sword. This belt of Truth Paul is describing is the Bible. When we study the Bible and memorize parts of scripture, we are prepared for battle. I fight to make this a daily habit, but thankfully we live in a day and age where it is so quick and easy to get to scripture. I love reading my Bible on my phone.
- Breastplate of Righteousness: The breastplate of righteousness is given to each one of us when we are saved by Jesus. It is through him we are righteous, through the blood he shed on the cross to forgive us of our sins. Think about the breastplate for a minute. Did you know it attached to the belt of the Roman soldier’s uniform? If it weren’t for the belt, the word of God, the breastplate would not stay in place. I am not saying we can lose our righteousness in Christ. What I am saying is attending to your “belt,” or the word, is critical. The breastplate covers our heart. Allow Christ’s sacrifice and gift to you to protect your heart. We need our hearts protected when people are cruel to us, or take advantage, as can be the case in ministry. But when we find ourselves hurt by others, all we must do is think about Christ’s sacrifice which allows for our own righteousness, and the sting can be lessened because Christ’s forgiveness is perfect and complete.
- Shoes for your Feet: What is the first thing you do if emergency strikes in the middle of the night? Assuming you wear pajamas, you probably go on a search for shoes to put on your bare feet. Why? Because shoes allow us to be prepared for what might come. We may have to stand outside. We may have to run. Shoes are important for balance and being ready. Having shoes for your feet in the armor of God is being ready in season and out of season. We must remain in the word of God so we are prepared. We must put on our breastplates of righteousness so we can be confident in a God who saves.
- Shield of Faith: I have been amazed–blown away even–by how God has grown my faith through the experience of planting churches. Each time we move, God is there. Each time we pray, God answers (not always with, “Yes,” but he always answers). The shield of faith in the whole armor of God is the first defense at warding off the flaming arrows from the enemy. In Roman times the shields were so large, they covered the soldier’s entire body. Try carrying that thing around–no thank you. In addition to entirely covering the warrior, many times these shields were a place to paint identifying symbols to show where the soldier’s allegiance lie. Your shield of faith is your identity. It can ward off horrible words, slander, evil plans from the enemy, anything. Don’t forget, you are a daughter of the King! Be proud of your shield and be confident as you stand behind it.
- Helmet of Salvation: The helmet was the last item to be secured into place on a Roman military’s uniform. It would require buckling to keep it in place so the warrior’s head and brain would be protected. Our helmets have a lot to do with our daily battle to keep Christ front and center in our lives. Do well dwell on that which is from the Lord? Do we reject doubts and use scripture to overcome our fears? Do we keep an eternal perspective knowing victory is already won? What an incredible God we serve! He can defeat the enemy, no he has already defeated the enemy, with a single breath. And we are on his side! Isn’t this incredible news? Put on your helmet with joy. Your salvation is a gift and it is eternal.
- Sword of the Spirit: The sword of the spirit is the word of God. Remember when Jesus went through the desert being tempted by Satan? What did he use to win that battle? The Word. When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones to bread, Jesus said, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4 ESV) When Satan told Jesus to demonstrate how the angels would keep him from getting hurt, Jesus said, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7 ESV) When Satan requested Jesus worship him in return for earthly glory, Jesus said, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10 ESV) Jesus was ready with the sword of the spirit. Are you ready? Am I ready?
I pray we will consider these incredible tools we have through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Be encouraged. We serve a mighty, mighty God!
Blessings to you, Dear Planter’s Wife