When Paul wrote his letter to the believers in Ephesus (sometime around AD 60), the city boasted a very high status in the Greco-Roman world. It was home to soldiers, artisans, trades people, aristocrats and commoners. The Temple to Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was one of hundreds of temples and shrines that dotted the city streets and with two major markets within the city limits, life was BUSY between the shoppers and those who came to worship. Could their lives become just as topsy-turvy as mine does on occasion? I think so which is why I take note of what Paul says in Eph. 6:10-14.
Paul encourages the Ephesians to first, “be strong”. This verb means to actively strengthen something- somewhat like a mason who adds some sort of bonding agent to his mortar in order to make the mix even stronger. If Truth is going to hold me up in chaotic times, I must make sure I’ve strengthened it with the right stuff. Paul then instructs them to put on the armor of God which includes the belt of truth. Most of us know why a soldier puts on his armor. Arrows, bullets, swords and other forms of weaponry are obviously designed to harm but armor protects one from the attack. Paul claims our enemy does not fling stones our way or charge at us with a saber. Instead he uses “methodia”, schemes, a word that connotes a purposeful and calculated step by step progression to accomplish a goal. It is no surprise then that when my life seems askew or filled with obstacles and challenges that I might be led to think that God has forgotten me or left me to drown in a sea of uncertainty. It’s a progression of thought that Satan would love me to take.
However, each part of God’s armor provides a means to combat the methods of Satan. The belt of Truth is at the center of this equipment. In the Greco-Roman world of Ephesus, the typical dress was loose and draped. A man tucked his garment into his belt when he needed his legs free for battle. Paul’s imagery reminds us that to be ready for battle, Truth must be located at the center of how we respond to any given situation. What are some of the great Truths of the Bible that can help see us through those challenging times we face? Here are a few for starters: God loves us. No matter what is going on around us, this fact remains (Dt. 23:5; Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:7-9, 19). Jesus understands what we’re going through because He’s experienced it too (Heb. 2:17; 4:14-15; 1 Pet. 5:7). This won’t last forever. While it seems that it might (it usually does when we’re in the middle of the trouble), it really won’t and when Christ returns, we will not face times like this anymore. In the meantime God uses trials to perfect our Christian character (Rom. 5:3-5; 2 Cor. 4:17; Js. 1:2,12).
So although it will take some time before our heads are clear and we can breathe more easily, Jeff and I will get better. And at some point we’ll put another tire on the car- we’re too sick to travel anyway! In the meantime, I’ll put a belt where I can see it to remind myself to keep my circumstances tucked into God’s Truth. That way I will “stand firm against the devil’s schemes (Eph. 6:11, 14)”.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.