As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1
When I examine my life and my choices in light of that verse, I feel a slew of conflicting emotions. Tell me I’m not alone?? I feel motivated to do my best all the time, and to really weigh my decisions. But I also feel shame, since there are very few times that I actually live up to the calling that I have received.
And let’s be honest–most of the time I am stumbling over the same sinful behaviors that I have been trying to find freedom from for years. Not quite so victorious. Yet how can I expect to be victorious when I have not been training myself for the battle?
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24- 27
We are warned time after time that we are facing a very real enemy.
8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
And we are given strategies for battle:
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:13-18
I read the verses. I nod, and say “yes, Lord, Amen!” But when the temptations come, my default mode is still to flounder, lost, in my own strength and inability to conquer. And I wonder why I stumble.
But this is what I do know, and what I can do. I will feed on the Word of God. I will saturate my heart, mind and spirit with the words of life, and truth. I will read the entire book of Ephesians, every day. It will remind me that I was once lost, but am now beloved. That I am treasured work of art, with a specific purpose. It will affirm the things I know to be true about love, and how to treat those around me. And most of all, it will equip me to stand firm.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
So let’s take up our sword of the Spirit, and the shield of Faith, and our helmet of Salvation. Friends, sisters – - I will see you on the battlefield. And when the waging becomes tiresome, come find rest for your soul, and compassion and kinship in our community group.