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Mindful of the Word

Mindful of the Word
Mindful of the Word
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh
The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh, Special Writer

Background text: Ephesians 6:10-24

Devotional text: Ephesians 6:11-13

The Apostle Paul often spoke and wrote to the new believers in Christ using analogies, things that were familiar to the people of his time, in order to make his point in explaining the ways of the Lord.

In Ephesians 6:10, he used the familiarity of a Roman soldier in full armor, from helmet down to footwear, to explain how God teaches and protects us. These were not words of war, but of hope, encouragement and understanding, to help us stand firm in our beliefs through all circumstances. He explained how the pieces of armor, put on by the believer, all come together to help us to grow in the new life of Christ.

Although we will continue to use the armor worn by a soldier, we are going to transform the soldier’s garb into the reality of God’s covering for peace and a firm faith. Beginning with Ephesians 6:11, Paul tells us to “put on the whole armor of God to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

In the above verses, Paul is referring to the evil in this world, the temptations that come from the evil one that stir up our sinful nature. Although, as believers in Christ, we have a new life, and we desire to turn from those things that were bad for us, we still have the war of the flesh going on within us against the new life in Christ.

Verses 14 through 17 tell us to “gird your waist with the belt of truth, put on the breastplate of righteousness, shod your feet with the gospel of peace, above all take the shield of faith, put on the helmet of salvation and take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.”

As seen above, altogether we have six parts of armor associated with Christ: belt, breastplate, footwear, shield, helmet and sword. Each translates into a specific purpose by which believers can rely on the Lord their God.

Let’s begin as Paul did, with the belt. It was the belt that held the pieces of armor together. In the soldier analogy, it was the part of the armor that kept everything in place and made the soldier battle-ready. Paul tells us to gird our way with truth. God’s truth is always compassionate, good and right, because God never lets us down. Taking from Paul’s analogy, it is the truth of God’s gift of salvation that holds us together.

Next, the breastplate protected the torso, which includes the heart, of the soldier. As we give our heart to Jesus, and learn the loving ways of God (as God has loved us, and as we are to love others), the breastplate is an analogy of the protection God gives us to help our hearts remain in him. And so, for the breastplate, we can substitute the righteousness of God’s love.

Then, there was the footwear worn by the soldiers. Paul called it “dressing our feet in the gospel of peace.” These words remind us of God’s peace brought into the world by Jesus, showing us how to love our enemies, how to be forgiving and compassionate with one another, and allowing us to rest in him and find comfort.

As the soldier put on footwear to keep his feet safe in battle, we, today, should walk in the peace of the Lord, not as one looking for trouble, but as one being gentle, good, kind and full of self-control. Our feet are covered in peace. The way we should walk in our lives is to be a bringer of peace.

Going on to the soldier’s shield of protection, we find that it is born of our faith in Jesus. When we are tempted, as believers, we have our faith to keep us strong in defending our minds and bodies against those things that would lead us away from God. It is by our faith in God that we can continue to stand firm each day against whatever may come against us, whether it be temptation or tragedy. Our faith sees us through it all. Here, we can hold up our faith as a reminder that faith gives us strength.

Going on to the helmet, it was the helmet that protected the head of the soldier. Called the helmet of salvation, it protects our minds. No longer part of the sinful world, salvation through Christ offers us a new way of life based on God’s love for us.

As we read and act on the words of scripture, those words become a protective part of our being. It is when we step out in belief, centered in our minds, that we become Christians. To grow in Christ is to learn the way God protects us from thoughts and temptations that are sinful. We look to the word of God found in scripture that teaches us right from wrong, helping to remind us the right way to live.

And so, in modern terms, our helmet of salvation is when we ask God for forgiveness and believe in our hearts and minds that Jesus is Lord and Savior that we receive salvation.

Finally, we come to the sword of the Spirit. God’s word, the scriptures we read in our Bibles, as well as Jesus Christ himself, are always alive in us. As we read the word and study the teachings of Jesus, we become stronger as Christians. Not only that, but the Holy Spirit, who is received by all believers when we first believe, is alive within us, reminding us of scripture and helping us to understand God’s word as it speaks to us.

So, the sword in our hands turns into the Bible, God’s Word leading the way.

The armor of Christ is not the armor of war. It has the purpose to protect us through faith and righteousness, to help us stand against temptations, to live by the active word of God in our head and in our hearts, and to stand firm in our belief as we find peaceful resolutions to our conflicts.

As we are clothed in Christ today, let us remember what each of these six parts truly stand for in the life of the believer: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation and the Bible along with the Holy Spirit.