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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist. (Ephesians 6:10, 14)
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit." "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you." (John 1:47-48)
Why the belt and why truth? The main truth that I think a belt tells us today is the truth about the ‘battle of the bulge’, but that probably wasn’t what Paul was referring to!
Scholars have different views as to why, when Paul talks about spiritual armour, he starts with the belt, and why he links it to truth. One theory is that, in the Roman armour, the belt secured the scabbard and the scabbard held the sword. Without a belt, a soldier would be going into battle without a weapon. Without truth we are vulnerable to attack.
I prefer a different theory which suggests that the normal wear for men of that time was a long robe, secured around the middle by a belt. If a soldier was to go into battle he would gather up his robe into his belt and then put his armour over the top. The belt would stop him tripping over his robes when he went into battle. Truthfulness in our lives prevents us from tripping up.
I wonder, though, if Paul wasn’t referring to something more than the virtue of telling the truth? Jesus, who came ‘full of grace and truth’ said that the Holy Spirit would lead us into truth, and that knowing the truth will set you free. Just as a doctor cannot set us free from sickness without first diagnosing the truth of an illness, neither can Jesus set us free from the things that hold us back unless we face up to the truth of our condition.
I think we are all careful about how we present ourselves to other people, only revealing what we think will be acceptable, the partial truth, while not even the people who are really close know the whole truth about who we are, what we do and how we think. But Jesus does. Jesus knew the truth about Nathanael before Nathanael met Jesus, and Jesus knew us through and through before we ever got to know him. In spite of all things we try to hide form others, Jesus knows the truth, and he still loves us. And there is something really liberating in that.
The truth is that we are all created in the image of God. The truth is that, however tarnished that image may have become, the blood of Jesus makes us like new. The truth is that God's plans and purposes for us still hold good.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are the truth, the belt that prevents me from stumbling and, if I fall, the belt that enables us to stand tall again. Be the belt around my life, that I might stand firm in you.