13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, 15 and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
We talked before about how faith protects us. In discussing the breastplate of righteousness we talked about our righteousness stems from our faith. Likewise, our shield is similar to the breastplate, only this piece is detached from the body, able to be used more outwardly. It is still a defensive weapon, but it is more versatile.
The reference to a shield appears many times throughout the scriptures, each time referring to God’s salvation being our shield. It is our salvation, which we now know is a result of our faith, which saves us through God. I point this out because it is a consistent theme, even through the Old Testament.
In picturing flaming arrows, I cannot help but to flash back to the scene in 300 where the enemy hoard lobs a barrage of arrows into the sky at the Roman soldiers. Yes, I know the arrows were not on fire, but it exemplifies the importance of the shield. So many arrows fly through the sky that it actually blots out the sun. As the unit prepares for them to land, they properly use their shields. The best part is their laughter as they wait for the onslaught to end. Flaming arrows were like a specialty weapon back then. They were the “death from above” that not only sought out to pierce the flesh, but also burn whatever it came in contact with. The Romans designed shields covered in leather that would isolate and extinguish the flames AND protect the shield bearer from getting hit.
So what is the point of all this? The point is that God’s salvation, gifted to us in the form of faith in Him, is what protects us from the lies and attacks from the enemy. We saw this during Christ’s 40 days of fasting and temptation. In keeping with our previous conversation of the importance of building our faith through reading the bible, it is important we continually increase our faith through obedience, prayer, and meditation on His Word. When we are “issued” our shield, it is just a framework. Our initial belief is not a solid impenetrable shield, but rather the beginning of one. We must work at strengthening, reinforcing, and personalizing it so we become one with it. This way, once in battle, we can wield it efficiently.
In our use of our shield, we won’t be perfect at it right away. Even the best, thickest, strongest shield is only as good as the one using it. Sometimes we will get stuck with an arrow. This is a point in our walk of faith that we have an opportunity. We have a choice to throw down our shield and sword and run home, or get patched back up and jump back into the fight. We can only get better at this if we continually push on, knowing we will survive the battles because He is with us, but also recognizing that sometimes we are going to come out bloody and bruised.
How sturdy is your shield today? How effective are you at wielding it? Are you willing to go through what it takes to become an expert or are you going to give up and go home? When God is our commanding officer, failure is not an option.