“…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.” EPHESIANS 6:15, 16
It is imperative that the soldiers of Christ be completely clad. Our spiritual warfare demands adequate equipment. Even the feet must be provided for. They must always be shod in readiness for service. It is not enough that we have an inclination to do the will of God. There must be preparedness as well.
There are Christians who emphasize religious knowledge at the expense of religious service. They occupy themselves almost exclusively with the doctrines of the faith to the neglect of practical activities. Christianity for them is knowing God’s will, studying God’s will, and sometimes arguing about God’s will. They seem to ignore or minimize the doing of God’s will. Of course, we must be on our guard against going to the other extreme. There are Christians, unfortunately, who are all doing with little knowing. They want to be active, but are reluctant to take time to find out what it is all about. The Psalmist indicates a wholesome balance in Psalm 143 which we all do well to imitate. In verse 8 he prays, “Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk,” and then in verse 10 he prays, “Teach me to do thy will.”
Readiness for service is a distinguishing element in Christian character. Once we have enlisted in the cause of · Christ we are expected to prepare for the march. Little is accomplished by remaining in the barracks. We must take to the road to tell others the tidings of peace committed to us. The very nature of Christ’s Kingdom enforces upon us this readiness to move out into the troubled ways of life. We profess, do we not, that the cause of Christ is paramount to every other interest? Do not the militant hymns of the Church testify to that fact? We must be ready and disposed to sacrifice ease, comfort, possessions, and whatever else may be required to promote the extension of God’s Kingdom and the honor of his Name. Our shoe leather should be worn thin by steps to the despairing, the destitute, and the lost.
The blunt truth is that without this disposition to serve Christ beyond the comfort of our arm-chair we have no satisfactory evidence that we really belong to his army.
Put on the armor; shod with peace
Thy feet shall firm endure;
Though snares beset and thorns may pierce,
He makes thy footsteps sure.
“Withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.” Faith is an elemental grace of Christian character. It is a grace that honors God, for it disposes the soul to relinquish every other reliance and to rest solely upon the divine promises. Even when there are no evidences that these promises will be fulfilled, when life becomes heavy and help seems far away, faith leans firmly upon the Word of God. And that Word never fails us. People who bank on the Bible always come through. There is adventure in faith. It is the secret that overcomes the world (I John 5:4).
Let us make sure we understand the function of this shield. It is not a protection against every unwelcome circumstance. It does not ward off sorrow. It does not keep away sickness or pain. Such immunities are never promised a Christian. What is promised is that the shield of faith will defend us against “all the fiery darts of the evil one.” This means that when sickness, pain, sorrow, and losses come, as they will for everyone of us, the shield of faith will frustrate the designs of the devil as he tries to make these circumstances into openings through which to attack our souls. Faith shields against the pessimism that so easily rises out of pain. It shields against the spirit of murmuring that is born of sorrow and loss. It protects us against the bitterness to which a disappointment can give birth.
Take up the shield of faith! The prophets used it and found it good. The apostles used it and it never failed them. The glorious army of the martyrs used it and shouted their triumph as they went into death. Take up this heaven-tempered buckler! Turn it this way and that against the assaults of the adversary. God will keep his Word when he says that with this shield you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.
Faith is a gift of God. He never mocks us with his gifts. What he makes available will prevail.
Almighty God, help us to grasp firmly what thou givest. Recover us from our faltering poise and protect us from Satan’s onsets. Amen.