Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Dangers of Not Wearing Your Belt

I move behind the gathering table and wrap my arms around husband's shoulders for a quick evening hug.  As I pull away, my fingers catch on his red t-shirt to find a new hole in the sleeve.

"How'd you get that?" I frown.  "This is a new shirt."

He shrugs and twists his head downwards to survey the damage, as surprised and clueless as I am. 

Long rips, torn holes, and jagged tears in both t-shirts and roomy carpenter jeans are all common occurrences here on the farm.  Any piece of clothing that billows even the slightest bit away from the smooth contours of the body is a magnet for every tree limb, briary thorn, or sharp-edged metal farm equipment to catch on, leaving its mark for me to roughly repair with needle and thread. 

It's not that husband tries to ruin his shirts.  It's just inevitable.  And if he's not careful, loose clothing can be deadly on a hay farm with lots of heavy moving equipment and mechanical moving parts, where the few seconds required to disentangle yourself can mean the difference between life and severe injury or even death.

The dangers of loose clothing are what come to my mind when reading through Ephesians 6:10-17 where Paul speaks to Christians about putting on the full armor of God

Last week, we talked about standing firm in our convictions and not losing ground in the slippery moral slope of our world. One way this passage tells us we can stand firm is by putting on our armor--the ever familiar belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of peaceful assurance/confidence, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit.

The passage I have been settling on reads, "Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth" (v. 14).  The NIV states it in more modern language as "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist."

In all honesty, the breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword have always seemed more important parts of the battle uniform than the belt.  But, that's because I wasn't considering the original audience and how it would have understood the imagery.  

In Paul's day, the majority of people--even men--would have worn long, flowing robes, which would catch on everything they passed, especially on the battlefield. The belt, then, was an extremely important part of the soldier's armor since it cinched in those flowing robes, drawing the fabric in close to the body so the soldier could move more easily in the hurried chaos of the moment.  In this scenario, if a loose robe caught on the edge of a chariot, a splintery wooden cart, the corner of another soldier's armor, or even his own horse's gear, those few seconds of distraction could be all the enemy needed to plunge a sword in his side.

With this image in mind, I can more easily understand how vitally important it is to be girded with a belt of truth.  If I do not know with certainty the truth of who God is according to what He has taught in Scripture....if I don't know who I am as a child of God saved by grace in Christ--if I am not surrounded by those truths and others found in His Word, then my doctrine and precepts are like loose clothing, which will "catch" on every false whim or doctrine that comes my way.

I will become entangled in lies, half truths, which will hinder my ability to be successful in the battles against Satan in this world.  Not being certain of truth is not only dangerous to my witness on this earth and my eternal soul but is also dangerous to the eternal souls of everyone I come in contact with.

Christ, Himself, warned His followers of this same concept, saying, "'See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many...Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many'" (Matt. 24:4-5,11). 

This is why it is so very important to pick up our Bibles daily, to commit ourselves to studying and memorizing Scripture.  This is why it is necessary to question and examine everything against the plumb line of God's Word, even if it's something said by a Christian we deeply respect as an extremely knowledgeable man/woman of God.

As Paul said, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thes. 5:21). 

Recommit yourself to faithfully study the truths of Scripture this week.  Put on that belt with me so we can stand firm together.

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