Friend, I’m so excited to dive into this week with you. I started studying the armor of God about two and a half years ago as part of a Bible study with my mentor. At the time, I wasn’t grasping the importance of this Ephesians 6 verse. I skipped over it, mumbling something about ‘being ready’ and ‘the gospel’ as I silently read through the verse, quickly moving on to give more credit to the shield of faith. Since then, I’ve spent many more hours studying scripture and this piece of armor sticks out to me as one of the most important, if not the most important.
Before I go any further, I feel like I should tell you that I’m a little in love with Paul (the author of Ephesians). His words can be hard, but his passion for Jesus and for sharing the gospel is contagious. If we were playing that game where you ask me what famous person I would have over for dinner, I’d tell you Paul. I’m praying my room is right by his in heaven, and I hope he’s ready for a little sister with all the questions.
It started when I did an intense, 16-week study of Paul’s first letter: Galatians. Paul comes swiftly out of the gate with words for the church in Galatia and he doesn’t hold up. He defends the gospel in his own zealous way, reciting his conversion story, and then moves on to hold the church accountable for their actions. Paul weaves correction into his letter and ends by reminding the Galatian church of the freedom they have in Christ, pleading with them to not abuse that freedom, but to use it for good.
My feelings grew deeper when I went through Beth Moore’s Entrusted study on 2 Timothy. I already loved 2 Timothy for other reasons, but Entrusted took me deeper into the letter and into Paul’s life. 2 Timothy was Paul’s last letter, the one he wrote from prison while he awaited his nearing execution. Reading 2 Timothy with the historical context of Paul’s life in perspective made it dearer to me, and also etched in my mind the importance of his words. I finished the book literally crying on my couch. I didn’t want to say goodbye. Paul’s words were fueling me and his never-wavering mission inspired me. From Galatians to 2 Timothy, Paul carried Jesus’s command to spread the gospel and he wasn’t going to stop until he breathed his very last breath. Literally.
Throughout the New Testament, Paul is constantly sharing his testimony. It’s how he introduces himself, brings credibility to his story, and declares the goodness of Jesus in his life. And it’s how he brings hundreds of men and women to the faith. We see him start his journey in Acts, where his own life does a 180 after an encounter with Jesus. He then spends the rest of his days traveling, sharing the same gospel that transformed him with everyone else. Paul doesn’t negotiate the truth and he doesn’t stumble over his words. He has one charge that he emphasizes over and over in his letters: Be a witness. Spread the gospel.
To Paul, it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, young, old, differently-abled, of another race, rich or poor. If you’ve chosen to follow Jesus you better get out there and tell other people about Him.
When I was studying Paul’s letters one thing was very clear to me. As a Christian, I’m a witness of Jesus and called to share the gospel using the gift God’s given me. It doesn’t have to be pretty – and it probably won’t be without illness, pain, heartache, or grief – but it has to be done and it has to be done well. Meaning, it has to be done truthfully and in earnest. There’s no sharing the gospel halfway. You’re either all in or you’re all out. Jesus speaks directly to this in Matthew 12:
”Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
“And as your shoes the readiness to announce the good news of peace.” The good news is the gospel. If we’re going to stand firm in this fight, if we’re going to take off what’s holding us captive and live in freedom, we have to lean into the mission Jesus gave us and Paul left us. I think Paul emphasizes shoes in the armor because when our feet are covered it’s easier for us to step with sure footing, unafraid of what our feet may touch. In that same way, we should step out with a peaceful assurance and bring the gospel to the world.
The war we’re in the middle of isn’t just a war on me or on you. It’s a war on our brothers and sisters in Christ, and it’s a war on those that have yet to call salvation their own. God’s going to fight for us – He already has. But He’s given us a command to fight for others, too. To tell them the good news and to pull them out of captivity so they can be free. It’s our mission to be witnesses. Once we’re suited up we don’t have to live in fear of the enemy holding us back. Once our shoes are on we don’t have to worry about stepping on snakes or stones. We can walk through the debris and pull others to safety.
Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”