Are You a Well-armed Peacemaker?
“HAPPY are the peaceable,” said Jesus Christ in his Sermon on the Mount. (Matt. 5:9) Such peaceable ones work hard to maintain good relations with others. They repay evil with kindness, and avoid quarreling. (Rom. 12:17, 18) In attitude, word and action, they promote peace. Hence, they are indeed “peacemakers,” exerting themselves to help others to enjoy peace with God and with their fellowmen.
Why, then, can it be said that such peacemakers must be well armed? Because powerful enemies are bent on destroying them as spiritual persons. Regarding these enemies and the Christian’s fight against them, the apostle Paul wrote: “We have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) So ours is a fight against the Satanic powers of darkness, the Devil and his demons. Physical weapons and armor would be of no value in a battle against these superhuman spirits.
THE SPIRITUAL ARMOR
Hence, we need the spiritual equipment mentioned by the apostle Paul. He admonished fellow believers: “Take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you have done all things thoroughly, to stand firm. Stand firm, therefore, with your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and with your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace. Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles. Also, accept the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word.”—Eph. 6:13-17.
Though we may have “done all things thoroughly” as God’s servants until now, we cannot afford to relax our guard. It is important that we look to our Maker and his spirit to assist us in ‘standing firm.’ This calls for earnest effort in cooperating with the direction of the holy spirit. The apostle Paul recognized the importance of this in his own case. To the Corinthians he wrote: “I pummel my body and lead it as a slave, that, after I have preached to others, I myself should not become disapproved somehow.” (1 Cor. 9:27) If we, like Paul, desire to remain approved, we need the spiritual equipment that he listed in his letter to the Ephesians.
What service does the girdle of truth render in “the complete suit of armor from God”? In Paul’s day the military girdle was a leather belt worn around the waist or hips. It varied in width from two to six inches (5 to 15 cm) and was often studded with plates of iron, silver or gold. The warrior’s sword was suspended from it and at times the belt was supported by a shoulder strap. Even the coat of mail might thus be secured at the waist. (Judg. 3:15-17; Ps. 45:3, 4) Such a girdle provided support and protection for the loins. Likewise, truth can strengthen the embattled Christian in his determination to remain firm when subjected to trialsome situations.
Essential, too, is the “breastplate of righteousness.” The need of righteousness as a protective breastplate can readily be appreciated when we consider the sinful bent of the heart. The Scriptures tell us: “The inclination of the heart of man is bad from his youth up.” (Gen. 8:21) “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) Only the righteousness that is based on faith in God’s arrangement for everlasting life and that is effected by his spirit can prevent the heart from yielding to sinful inclinations.—Rom. 6:15-20.
Even our feet need protective covering, namely, “the good news of peace.” Are your feet thus shod? If so, you will be conducting yourself in harmony with the “good news,” the whole deposit of Christian teaching. (Compare Romans 6:17.) Since the feet are militarily used for marching, the warrior’s having “the good news of peace” involves more than maintaining pure personal conduct. We should also be eager to spread the “good news.” Therefore, even while undergoing hardships, our active participation in making known the “good news” to others can help us to endure faithfully.
An especially prominent part of our armor is faith. The apostle Paul referred to it as “the large shield of faith.” He may have had in mind a large Roman shield measuring four feet by two and a half feet (about 1.2 by 0.8 m), rather than the small circular shield customarily carried by archers. Such a large shield provided excellent protection for most of the body. Similarly, our faith in Jehovah God, our total reliance on him, enables us to bear up under all kinds of tribulations. This faith is not a mere belief in the existence of the Creator. (Heb. 11:6) It includes unbreakable confidence that our heavenly Father can and will totally undo any hurt that we may experience. Even death itself cannot prevent our receiving the grand blessings that God has promised to his servants.—Matt. 10:28.
This “large shield of faith” will render harmless any burning missiles that Satan, through his agents, may hurl against us. Faith will help us to resist attacks by “wicked spirits,” also allurements to commit wrong, to involve ourselves in a materialistic way of life, and to give in to fear, doubt, selfishness, excessive grief or worry. With faith protecting us like a large shield, we will be able to express ourselves in line with the following inspired words: “Jehovah is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”—Heb. 13:6.
As the helmet protects a warrior’s head, so the “helmet of salvation” safeguards the Christian’s mental powers. By keeping our mental vision fixed on our final salvation, the prize of everlasting life, we are greatly aided in putting up a hard fight against anything that would cause us to deviate from our goal. The positive “hope of salvation” that God has imparted can be powerful enough to give us the kind of protection that a helmet gave ancient warriors.—1 Thess. 5:8.
Often attacks are made on Christians in the form of twisted reasonings and arguments. When this happens, we need the “sword of the spirit,” God’s Word the Bible. The Scriptures are a product of the holy spirit and are designed “for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16) Equipped with accurate Bible knowledge, we can distinguish between right and wrong. (Heb. 5:14) This enables us to ‘overturn reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.’—2 Cor. 10:5.
PERSEVERE IN PRAYER
Of course, we should never lose sight of the fact that the provider of our spiritual armor is God. He is the One who will safeguard us for everlasting life as we endeavor to yield to the operation of his spirit. That is why we do well to persevere in prayer, thus showing our complete dependence on Jehovah God. In view of the fact that all devoted Christians share in the same spiritual conflict, we would not want to limit our prayers just to ourselves but would want to include the whole brotherhood. This is in harmony with the apostle Paul’s further encouragement: “While with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit. And to that end keep awake with all constancy and with supplication in behalf of all the holy ones.”—Eph. 6:18.
Since our final salvation is at stake, we do have good reason to remain well-armed peacemakers. Therefore, continue to examine yourself. Make sure that you are enjoying the guidance and support of Christian truth, that righteousness is protecting your heart, that your faith is strong enough to withstand attacks from without and from within, that the hope of gaining everlasting life is shielding your mental powers, and that you are able to use God’s Word aright in battling faith-destroying ideas and “the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” Strive to remain spiritually alert, letting yourself be guided by God’s spirit as you pray in ways appropriate to the many circumstances or occasions that call for thanksgiving, praise and requests for help and guidance from on high. Yes, exert yourself to be a well-armed peacemaker.