How to BEST fight the good fight!
Recently I found myself going back to a very well-known passage of scripture. As soon as the passage came to mind, however, it was followed by a second thought: “I already know what I’ll find.” We think that because it’s a familiar passage, it‘s less able to teach us something new. That’s rarely the case when we’re honestly reading the Bible. Come with me back to Ephesians 6.
This passage is most known for it’s description of the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). But as I went back to something familiar… the Lord showed me something new.
Everyone, without exception, goes through times of exhaustion which can be brought on by a variety of stimulii. Physical exhaustion can be the result of particularly demanding physical tasks. Mental or emotional exhaustion can be brought on by an intense period of work or difficult interpersonal relationships. But for those of us who name the name of Christ… there can also be times of spiritual exhaustion as well.
(I daresay that non-Christians experience spiritual exhaustion as well… but they would call it mental exhaustion or something else. We are all spiritual beings)
I’ve experienced these different types of exhaustion, in varying proportions, at various times and the Lord showed me three things in Ephesians 6 that will help with this toxic-coctail of fatigue.
Let me start is with the verses that caught my attention, before commenting on them.
#1: Healthy Relationships
Honour thy father and mother… that it may be well with thee and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Relationships are important. Family relationships – being the closest – are of utmost importance. Guard them. This verse speaks about your relationships with parents, but I would extend it, in principle, to other relationships of authority. You will be less exhausted (mentally, physically, emotionally & physically) when relationships of subordination – managers, bosses, supervisors, etc. – are healthy and in tact. In fact… verses 5-7 do implicate work relationships.
Of course, I recognize that relationships are two-sided things and that such relationships are not always possible. If, however, you are doing your part to the best of your ability… then you can expect an increased measure of peace.
#2 Not your Strength
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
We often look more intently at verses 12-18 when we consider how to fight… how to withstand… how to stand strong, as a Christian: verses that detail the nature of our opponent and the various weapons and pieces of armor that we have at our disposition.
The Lord underscored for me, however, that before even discussing the enemy and before even discussing our armor, there’s a basic realization that we must have. Our strength must be in him!
I think the Lord put it in that order knowing that we can get dressed in the finest armor and ride the most powerful horse, but if the soldier inside the armor is afraid… he’ll turn the horse around and flee the battlefield.
Be strong in the Lord!
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
Like me when I initially read it in the verse, you may have looked at this subheading “Prayer” and thought to yourself… “yep, got it, ‘Prayer’, check. Skip over that and on to the next part… too basic.”
What stood out to me when reading the entire passage, however, was this. In naming the various pieces of armor, Paul may dedicate 1 short verse (eg. v.15 – shoes), or even half of a short verse (eg. v.14 – belt & breastplate) to this or that piece of armor. With prayer, however, he dedicates one long verse to prayer (3 verses if you count his specific request for personal prayer).
It struck me that Prayer is the way in which we distill the other elements of the armor…. how we realize our need for the other elements and how to appropriate them for ourselves.
Prayer is also the way that we connect with God and the closeness of our relationship with him defines the degree to which we can truly benefit from his strength (#2).
Wrapping it up
Nobody enjoys walking through life constantly dealing with exhaustion; fighting the fight of faith and often feeling like we’re coming up on the losing side. God used a familiar passage to show me that there’s a way to go a long way in our attempts to defeat exhaustion (whatever the kind) in our lives. It involves not just putting on the armor of God, but it involves a good number of things that must be in place before we ever put on that armor.
God bless you as you fight the good fight of faith today.
May the Lord help you to foster good relationships, find your strength in him and cultivate a great prayer life.
Mike Long is a Canadian pastor living in France and who blogs over at AIMLong.ca. He loves God, his family, small backyard animals, travel and mobile photography.
He is grateful for the opportunity to guest-post for Maria here on Health from one Heart to Another