Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Don't forget your helmet!

I'm the kind of person who has a tendency to internalize every single thing that someone says (or that I interpret them to be saying) to me. I can mull over these thoughts for hours, analyzing the other person's words and tone, until I can hardly think straight. Sometimes, I let these thoughts define who I am--mediocre mom, atrocious writer, average praise and worship leader, and so on and so on. In fact, the longer I dwell on the other person's words, the worse the situation becomes, in my mind, and the lower I esteem myself. After awhile, I tend to draw my identity from these negative thoughts and resent the people who, I think, made me feel that way. Is anyone out there in the same boat?

We're doing a Bible study at church on Wednesday nights called "The Armor of God", by Priscilla Shirer. The study is all about the armor of God (duh!), what it is and how to use it. As followers of Christ, we already have this armor at our beck and call. The question is, are we going to put it on? It's as simple as this--if you're a baseball player and you have all the equipment (balls, bats, helmet, mitt), would you come to the baseball field, leave all of your equipment in the dugout, and then complain because you couldn't play properly? God has equipped us with everything we need to live this life for Jesus; we have no excuse to live unarmed. If we do, we're open to all of the devil's tricks and tactics.

Ephesians 6:17 tells us to "take the helmet of salvation". What does a helmet protect? Your head, right? Where does all of our thinking go on? Our brains--most specifically, our minds. If the helmet we wear is one of salvation, then we have to ask ourselves what salvation changes about us, that it would guard our minds, like a helmet.

There are several good verses about the subject, but Ephesians 4:22-24 says that, " lay aside the old self...and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth." When we decide to follow Jesus, our minds should be made completely new. We should see everything in a new light--ourselves, others, situations in our lives. We should see them all through the filter of Christ.

The second  part of 1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "...but we have the mind of Christ." Romans 12:2 says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." These verses are just confirmation that salvation should change our thought patterns and thought process. The devil would love to worm his way into our thoughts and make them self destructive, as well as destroy our relationships with others and most importantly, our relationship with God.

The thing about the armor of God is that we have to choose to put it on everyday--just as we have to choose to follow Jesus everyday. We might not always feel like it and we might just plain not want to, but if we don't, we might as well be (spiritually) naked and unprotected. Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves over and over who we are in Christ--we are loved (John 3:16), we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), we are God's workmanship, created in Christ to do good works (Eph 2:10), we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Phil 4:13), we are God's children (1 Peter 1:23), we are new creatures in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17), we are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), and many, many other things that the Word says about who we are.

Instead our leaving our minds open to whatever thoughts try to creep in, we need to keep that helmet of salvation on at all times. We need to let our minds be renewed by the Holy Spirit. If we really mess up, we need to fix the situation and move on. If we're truly living for Christ, though, the only person's opinion that matters is His, as hard as it is to get it through this thick skull and these tender hearts of ours.

This isn't just about having positive thoughts, y'all; this is about knowing who we are, whose we are, and confidently living that way. Our identity is found in Christ!

And of course, you can't just wear the helmet either, because that leaves the rest of you unprotected. All of the pieces of armor work together to keep every part of you covered and prepared for battle. Study them! Use them! I'm a work in progress and hopefully, you are, too.

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