For decades now I have been praying the armor of God in Ephesians 6 over myself nearly every day, and today I realized something new.
Ephesians 6:14-17 (NIV 1984) says:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Here are the components mentioned in the above passage, with my non-seminary observations:
- Truth. This is God’s perspective on anything and everything.
- Righteousness. This is right standing with God, which we receive only through the grace and sacrifice of Christ.
- The Gospel of Peace. The good news is that God has reconciled us to himself through his Son, Jesus Christ, thereby giving us peace with him.
- Faith. Hebrews 11 says “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV 1984) While my thought had always been that faith is the one “act,” if you will, that Christians “do” when they accept Christ as Savior, it was pointed out to me recently that in Ephesians 2:8 the grammar actually states faith itself is a gift of God.
- Salvation. Again, this is the work of God in our lives; we cannot save ourselves.
- The Spirit, or the Word of God. God’s word, the Scriptures, penetrates to the core of our soul and reveals God’s truth through the Holy Spirit.
In the past month or two I have become more aware of how every component of God’s armor is something he does for us. This morning, however, something else became clear to me:
Our shoes, the gospel of peace, give the expectation that we will spread peace to each other and with God everywhere we go through the good news of what God has done in our lives.
Think about that for a moment. Do you bring peace to every situation you enter? Does your story of what God has done for you permeate everything you do? When people look at your life, do they see someone responding to God’s gift of peace with him by acting peacefully with everyone, or someone taking advantage of the peace of God in their own lives but refusing to allow peace in their everyday relationships?
I would propose that putting on the shoes of the gospel of peace is similar to wielding the sword of the Spirit; they are both offensive, not defensive, parts of our lives.
- We are to engage culture, not retreat from it.
- We are to take steps of faith, not simply hold our position.
- We are to enter into conflict, not avoid it.
- We are to forgive, not hold a grudge.
- We are to speak and act peacefully, and not just when it is convenient.
- We are to share what God has done for us, not keep it to ourselves.
For me entering into conflict rather than avoiding it is something I regularly have to choose; it does not come naturally. Sharing my faith outside of church is hard for me, not easy. Taking steps of faith is difficult for me. I am grateful, however, that God has been helping me to grow in these areas.
God will help you in your unique situation; all you have to do is ask.
In which of these areas do you need to grow?