STUDY ARTICLE 46
Are You Maintaining Your “Large Shield of Faith”?
“Take up the large shield of faith.”—EPH. 6:16.
SONG 119 We Must Have Faith
1-2. (a) According to Ephesians 6:16, why do we need a “large shield of faith”? (b) What questions will we consider?
DO YOU have a “large shield of faith”? (Read Ephesians 6:16.) No doubt you do. Like a large shield that protects most of the body, your faith protects you from the immoral, violent, and godless influences of this corrupt system of things.
2 However, we are living in “the last days,” and our faith will continue to be tested. (2 Tim. 3:1) How can you inspect your shield of faith to make sure that it is strong? And how can you keep a firm hold on your shield? Let us consider the answers to those questions.
CAREFULLY INSPECT YOUR SHIELD
3. What did soldiers do to their shields, and why?
3 In Bible times, soldiers often had shields that were covered with leather. The soldiers oiled the shields to preserve the leather and to keep the metal parts free from rust. If a soldier discovered that his shield was damaged, he made sure that it was repaired so that he was always ready for the next battle. How does that example apply to your faith?
4. Why must you inspect your shield of faith, and how should you do that?
4 Like soldiers of ancient times, you must regularly inspect and maintain your shield of faith so that you are always prepared for battle. As Christians, we wage a spiritual battle and our enemies include wicked spirits. (Eph. 6:10-12) No one else can maintain your shield of faith for you. How can you be sure that you are ready to face tests? First, you must pray for God’s help. Then, you need to use God’s Word to help you see yourself as God sees you. (Heb. 4:12) The Bible states: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5, 6) With that in mind, why not review some of the decisions you have made recently? For example, have you faced a serious financial problem? Did Jehovah’s promise recorded at Hebrews 13:5 come to mind: “I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you”? Did that promise give you confidence that Jehovah would help you? If so, that indicates that you are keeping your shield of faith in good condition.
5. What might you find when you examine your faith?
5 You might be surprised at what you find when you carefully examine your faith. You may discover weaknesses that have gone unnoticed for some time. For example, you may realize that undue anxiety, lies, and discouragement have damaged your faith. If this has happened to you, how can you protect your faith from further harm?
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM UNDUE ANXIETY, LIES, AND DISCOURAGEMENT
6. What are some examples of good anxiety?
6 Some types of anxiety are good. For example, we are properly concerned about pleasing Jehovah and Jesus. (1 Cor. 7:32) If we commit a serious sin, we are anxious to restore our friendship with God. (Ps. 38:18) We are also anxious to please our marriage mate and to care for the welfare of our family members and fellow believers.—1 Cor. 7:33; 2 Cor. 11:28.
7. According to Proverbs 29:25, why do we not need to fear man?
7 On the other hand, undue anxiety could damage our faith. For example, we may constantly worry about having enough food and clothing. (Matt. 6:31, 32) To ease that worry, we might focus on gaining material possessions. We could even develop a love of money. If we allow that to happen, our faith in Jehovah will become weak and we will suffer serious spiritual harm. (Mark 4:19; 1 Tim. 6:10) Or we might fall victim to another type of undue anxiety—becoming overly concerned about gaining the approval of others. We may then fear being ridiculed or persecuted by men more than we fear displeasing Jehovah. To protect ourselves from that danger, we must beg Jehovah to give us the faith and courage we need to face the challenge.—Read Proverbs 29:25; Luke 17:5.
8. How should we respond to lies?
8 Satan, “the father of the lie,” uses those under his control to spread lies about Jehovah and about our brothers and sisters. (John 8:44) For instance, apostates publish lies and distort facts about Jehovah’s organization on websites and through television and other media. Those lies are among Satan’s “burning arrows.” (Eph. 6:16) How should we respond if someone confronts us with such lies? We reject them! Why? Because we have faith in Jehovah and we trust our brothers. In fact, we avoid all contact with apostates. We do not allow anyone or anything, including curiosity, to draw us into arguing with them.
9. How can discouragement affect us?
9 Discouragement can weaken our faith. We cannot ignore our personal problems. In fact, it would be irresponsible of us to try to do so. And at times we may feel discouraged. But we must not allow our problems to dominate our thinking. If we do, we might lose sight of the marvelous hope that Jehovah has given us. (Rev. 21:3, 4) Feelings of discouragement could then drain our strength and cause us to give up. (Prov. 24:10) But that does not have to happen to us.
10. What do you learn from a letter written by one sister?
10 Consider how a sister in the United States is maintaining her faith while caring for her seriously ill husband. In a letter to headquarters, she wrote: “Our situation has been stressful and discouraging at times, but our hope is strong. I am so very impressed with the information we have been getting to strengthen our faith and lift our spirits. We really need this counsel and encouragement. It keeps us going and helps us to endure the trials that Satan hurls at us.” We learn from this sister’s comments that we can overcome discouragement! How? View your trials as being a test from Satan. Recognize Jehovah as being the Source of comfort. And appreciate the spiritual food he provides.
11. To test the condition of our faith, what questions should we ask ourselves?
11 Do you see any areas in your shield of faith that need maintenance? During the past few months, have you been able to avoid giving in to undue anxiety? Have you resisted the urge to listen to and argue with apostates about the lies they spread? And have you been able to cope with discouragement? If so, then your faith is in good condition. But we must remain on guard because Satan has other weapons that he tries to use against us. Let us now consider one of them.
PROTECT YOURSELF FROM MATERIALISM
12. What can materialism cause us to do?
12 Materialism can cause us to become distracted and neglect our shield of faith. The apostle Paul said: “No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order to gain the approval of the one who enrolled him.” (2 Tim. 2:4) In fact, Roman soldiers were not allowed to get involved in any trade. What might happen if a soldier ignored that requirement?
13. Why would a soldier not become involved in commercial business?
13 Imagine the scene. A group of soldiers spend the morning training with their swords, but one of their company is missing. That soldier is in town setting up a food shop. In the evening, the soldiers spend time inspecting their armor and sharpening their swords. But the one who owns the shop spends his time preparing food to sell the next day. The next morning, however, an enemy launches a surprise attack. Which soldier is more likely to act appropriately and earn the approval of his commanding officer? And whom would you want standing beside you—a soldier who focused on being prepared or the one who was distracted?
14. As soldiers of Christ, what do we value?
14 Like good soldiers, we do not become distracted from our primary goal—gaining the approval of our Commanders, Jehovah and Christ. We view that as being more valuable than gaining anything Satan’s world has to offer. We make sure that we have the time and energy we need to serve Jehovah and to keep our shield of faith and the rest of our spiritual armor in good condition.
15. What warning did Paul give us, and why?
15 We must never let down our guard! Why? The apostle Paul warned that “those who are determined to be rich” will be “led astray from the faith.” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) The expression “led astray” indicates that we could become distracted by trying to acquire unnecessary possessions. We could then expose our heart to “many senseless and harmful desires.” Rather than allowing those desires into our heart, we must see them for what they are—weapons that can harm us.
16. The account recorded at Mark 10:17-22 should move us to reflect on what questions?
16 Suppose we have the financial means to buy many material things. Are we doing something wrong if we purchase things that we want but do not actually need? Not necessarily. But reflect on these questions: Even if we can afford to buy something, do we really have the time and energy to use and maintain the item? Also, might we become overly attached to our possessions? Could our attachment to material things cause us to act like the young man who turned down Jesus’ invitation to expand his service to God? (Read Mark 10:17-22.) How much better it is for us to lead a simple life and spend our precious time and strength in doing God’s will!
KEEP A FIRM HOLD ON YOUR SHIELD OF FAITH
17. What should we never forget?
17 We must never forget that we are at war and must be ready to fight the battle each day. (Rev. 12:17) Our brothers and sisters cannot carry our shield of faith for us. We personally must keep a firm hold on it.
18. Why did soldiers in ancient times keep a firm hold on their shields?
18 In ancient times, a soldier gained honor because of his bravery in warfare. But he would feel humiliated if he returned home without his shield. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote: “To have abandoned one’s shield is the height of disgrace.” That is one reason why soldiers made sure to keep a firm hold on their shields.
19. How can we keep a firm hold on our shield of faith?
19 We keep a firm hold on our shield of faith by regularly attending Christian meetings and by speaking about Jehovah’s name and his Kingdom to others. (Heb. 10:23-25) In addition, we prayerfully read God’s Word every day and apply its counsel and direction in all that we do. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) Then, no weapon that Satan uses against us will cause us any lasting harm. (Isa. 54:17) Our “large shield of faith” will protect us. We will stand firm, shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters. And we will do more than win our daily battles—we will have the honor of being on Jesus’ side when he wins the war against Satan and his followers.—Rev. 17:14; 20:10.
SONG 118 “Give Us More Faith”
a Soldiers relied on their shield to protect them from harm. Our faith acts like a shield. And like a literal shield, our faith needs to be maintained. This article discusses what we can do to make sure that our “large shield of faith” is in good condition.
b PICTURE DESCRIPTION: When a report appears on TV about apostates who spread lies about Jehovah’s Witnesses, a Witness family right away turns off the TV.
c PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Later, during family worship, the father uses a Bible passage to strengthen the faith of the family.