Be Strong (15-05-21)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 6:10-18, Deuteronomy 31:6
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Judging what is right to wear in different situations and circumstances can be important. There is a Scandinavian phrase which is often quoted by hikers in the UK, ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.’ Having been to the north coast of Norway one February, I would agree. Good clothing makes all the difference when you are faced with a Norwegian winter.
When Paul is looking for an image to illustrate how a Christian should be dressed to face the spiritual battles of life, he draws on their ever-present image of a Roman soldier. I wonder how he would have developed the image of someone trekking in a Norwegian winter.
The purpose of the Roman soldier’s armour and of the Norwegian trekker’s clothing is to protect them from the onslaughts of life so that they can remain standing. He starts by saying ‘Be strong in the Lord so that you can take your stand…’ and he concludes by saying ‘and after you have done everything, to stand.’
In Ephesians 6 Paul goes on to define the armour of God as including truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God and prayer.
As Christians we will face many battles in life, and behind many physical battles that we face, there is often a spiritual battle going on. When someone offends us personally, the spiritual battle is about whether we respond with grace and love or with anger and self-righteousness. When something happens that is outside our control, the spiritual battle is whether we respond with faith and peace, or whether we respond with doubts and with panic.
For Christians, though, it is good to know that we do not stand alone. We stand together with our fellow Christians in love and in support, but we also stand with our God. Paul says to the Ephesians ‘Be strong in the Lord’ and, in the quotation from Deuteronomy, Joshua is told to be strong and courageous because God is with him, and God will never leave him or forsake him.
Whatever trials are you facing at the moment, remember, God goes with you.
How might the armour of God help you in the way you respond to the situation?
Thank you, Lord, that I can stand firm because you are with me.
Give me the courage to face each situation with your grace.
Stand up, stand up for Jesus.