July 12, 2021
What if You Need To Suit Up Instead of Toughen Up?
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"Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." Ephesians 6:11 (NIV)
You just need to toughen up, Kimberly.
This is what I told myself after being misunderstood and then referred to in untrue and unkind ways on social media. Not only did I feel shamed by their words, but I also felt ashamed of myself for letting them crush me.
If you're going to be a woman who shares her heart in this world, you're going to have to get some thicker skin.
The desire to self-protect is such a normal, human reaction - especially in a world that can be so cruel.
But God has been helping me see that when I toughen up, I become cynical and less sensitive to His voice and the needs around me. And I keep people at a distance as I build up layer upon thick-skinned layer - insulating myself from some of the very people He wants me to reach.
So what do we do when we want to be used by God, but we're afraid or even tired of feeling attacked? How do we protect ourselves when hurtful things are hurled our way?
First, we must remember that people are not our real enemy. Satan - the father of lies, the deceiver, the accuser of us all - is our true enemy. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (NIV).
This is hard to remember when the flaming arrows aimed our way come via the vicious lips or fast-typing fingertips of people. But it's still the truth.
We also must realize that it's not our job to protect ourselves with thicker skin. Instead, we need to prayerfully put on the armor God says He has given us. We find this reminder in Ephesians 6:10-11, which says, "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (NIV).
I realize how vague this might seem since we can't see His armor with our physical eyes. But remember, this isn't a battle that takes place in the flesh. We are fighting a spiritual battle. This is why we need to spend time considering the armor detailed in Ephesians 6:10-18 as we ask the Holy Spirit to help us discern how each piece might protect us. Then we can speak or write out prayers to help us when we feel weak.
Here are a few examples of prayers I wrote based on my situation:
The breastplate of righteousness (v. 14): Jesus, everything in me wants to respond in ugly ways right now. But You are my righteousness. Help me make choices that align with that truth. And guard my heart against bitterness as I choose to respond with grace.
The shield of faith (v. 16): Lord, I don't want these fiery darts to leave me consumed by fear and insecurity. I am choosing to believe I am who You say I am: redeemed, purposed and loved. And I am going to keep moving forward in faith because I know You are who You say You are: my Shield, my Safe Refuge, my Victorious King.
The helmet of salvation (v. 17): Jesus, the enemy would love to worm his way into my thoughts and make me believe all the worst things being said about me. But the blood You shed for me speaks a better word over me. Cover my mind in the truth that I am safe and secure in You.
The sword of the Spirit (v. 17): Lord, Your Word is sharper than a two-edged sword. It is my weapon against the enemy, but it's also like a scalpel You can use with precision to get to the heart of me. Wherever I need Your conviction and correction, make me aware. But wherever there are lies and condemnation, help me silence Satan with Truth.
God hasn't called us to toughen up against people. He has equipped us to suit up against our true enemy.
Yes, the initial pain we feel when we come under attack is real. But God's armor is real, too. Every piece is His power, peace and protection placed between us and Satan. And we can stay surrendered to being used by the Lord because we know we’re fully covered by Him.
Lord, I'm so grateful You haven't left me to face my battles alone. I know I am surrounded by Your love, covered by Your armor and equipped by Your Truth. Even when the enemy's most vile attacks come after me, help me stay tender to Your leading and courageous enough to keep obeying You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Ephesians 6:19, "Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel," (NIV)
Which part of the armor of God are you the most thankful for today? How much more freedom would you experience if you knew and believed that God has you covered? We'd love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.
© 2021 by Kimberly Henderson. All rights reserved.