The Armor of God

Ephesians 6:10-24 (I gave this devotion to the teachers on June 4, 2012)

The last ten months have been a whirlwind of emotions, ranging from fear to anger to frustration to sadness to humiliation. As I write this final devotion before I leave for America, I look back on so many things that I have learned from all of you. I thank you for your support and for playing an inexpressibly important role in my development as a teacher. You all are my mothers and fathers in education, helping me to see the difficulties and joys of teaching. I go back to America knowing that I want to be a teacher and that I can succeed in it. I have new questions to ask in my university classes and new insights to express to my professors and fellow students. I would not have any of this if it had not been for all of you.

In my last few weeks in Lesotho, I echo the words of Paul from the end of Ephesians 6. Stand firm! We are not to stand only in our own strength and knowledge, but we are to stand in the strength of God, in the power of his Spirit (6:10). As I leave, I hope that you all will stand firm against the devil’s power as we see it in the rulers, authorities, and spiritual forces of evil all around us. Our battle is not against other people whom we may know or whom we may not know. We are battling ways of thinking or attitudes, oppressive systems of injustice, and those unseen things that are at the root of the terrible evils in our world (6:11-12). We battle these things together in our communities by each person putting on the full armor of God (6:13). This armor is not literal. Paul’s description here is similar to his idea of the fruit of the Spirit in the book of Galatians. We do not have literal fruit to eat that consists of love, joy, peace, etc. The fruits are behaviors and attitudes that reflect the God whom we claim to serve. Similarly, the pieces of God’s armor are attitudes and behaviors that we practice every moment of our lives to stave off the power of the enemy in our world. We practice truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation, which all are defensive parts of our lives. Our only weapon in this battle is God’s word, our sword of the spirit (6:14-17). We do not battle with actual swords, guns, fists, or any other physical weapon. We battle evil with God’s word and how it changes our lives. Tying all of these things together is our commitment to pray at all times in all situations. We can never pray enough (6:19). Please pray for me as I return to my family and friends in America that I would speak boldly what I have learned in Lesotho about education and God (6:19-20).

To conclude, I paraphrase the final words of Paul in the book of Ephesians. Peace be to all of you, and love in faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all in Lesotho who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible (6:23-24).

With much love, respect, and admiration

Ntate Neo

Other thoughts on the text:

All too often, we overspiritualize biblical texts. We read books about how we can put on the armor of God or pray it on, but maybe Paul is just using another metaphor like the fruit of the Spirit to help us understand what life in Christ looks like. We cannot expect to experience victory over the evil around us if we are not practicing the pieces of the armor of God. How can you practice peace and righteousness today, put your faith into action, or work out your salvation as Paul says in another letter (philippians 2:12)?

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~ by randallkoehler on July 30, 2012.

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