Put on the full armor of God. Just hearing this phrase brings to mind the list in Ephesians 6 of what that armor is:
- The Belt of Truth
- The Breastplate of Righteousness
- The Shoes of Peace
- The Shield of Faith
- The Helmet of Salvation
- The Sword of the Word
Have you ever wondered why these things are what they are? Why are shoes peace and not truth? Why is righteousness the breastplate and not the sword? We read right through these couple of verses, and we think, ah, yes, yes, of course, but have you really stopped to think about it?
When I wrote this note to myself as I read through the Bible last year, what I highlighted was the belt of truth. And why is truth the belt?
Because it keeps your shame from showing.
Think about what a belt does. It keeps your pants up. In the times in which these verses were written, men weren't really wearing pants. The belt's job was to keep the tunic closed, sufficiently wrapped around and secured on one's body, but the point was exactly the same - if you're wearing a belt, no one can see what the fig leaves once covered. The fig leaves, of course, from the Garden after Eve ate the fruit and sinned. The fig leaves, of course, that Adam and Eve used to cover their "shame."
Truth is the natural antidote to shame. Shame is that feeling we get when we think we're something lesser, when we've messed up or failed in some way. Truth reminds us who we are. If Adam and Eve had stood before God in their sin, what they would have discovered - in truth - is that He still loved them. He was still their God, and they were still His beloveds. He still wanted to walk with them. Even if sin made all of that impossible, the truth about who they were remained the truth. The truth about who God was remained the truth.
For no reason at all except for their shame, they became afraid of God. Nervous. Timid. Shy. Truth would have told them that none of that was necessary, that nothing about the very character of God had changed. And nothing about who they were had changed, either. They were always humans with the potential for sin, and now, they still were. He was always the God who walked with them and loved them, and He still was.
If Adam and Eve had wrapped themselves in truth instead of in bushes, the whole story of mankind might be different. And that's why truth is the belt. It covers shame.
Righteousness is the breastplate because it covers/protects the heart. Peace is the shoes because it emboldens and enables steps of faith. Faith is a shield because it always gives you the biggest thing to believe in, which keeps you from getting caught up in the little stuff that comes your way. The Word is the sword because it's sharp and divides even between bone and marrow (Hebrews) and because it is the only one of these you could direct out to the world; everything else comes inward to you. It's the only weapon you've got. Salvation is a helmet because it covers your head, makes you secure in the knowledge of where you're going and Who loves you so you don't have to entertain all of the questions the world thinks you ought to ask.
The armor of God makes sense if you stop and think about it, but how often do we ever really do that? There's a reason these things are what they are. What would they look like if you put them on?
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