But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:8-10 NIV)
When I was in college I worked in a Christian bookstore. I was consistently amazed at the books that sold and the books that just stayed on the shelf. One of the books that sold by the case was The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey. It is still in print. People are fascinated with prophecy and trying to figure out when Jesus will return. Some have been very specific and then had to make up new stories once the date they predicted was past. More than once people have ignored Paul’s instructions, sold everything, and gone to a hilltop to await Jesus’ imminent return.
Paul’s point is that if we belong to Christ, then we are alive and will remain alive. His main concern is with what we are to do while we are alive on planet earth. I always think of Ephesians 6 when I think of the armor of God metaphor, but Paul uses it here as well. He only uses two pieces of armor here. Faith and love serve as the breastplate and the hope of salvation is the helmet. My wife just finished putting together some materials on the armor of God to provide additional tools to use with the book my sister-in-law wrote titled Fighting the Dragon. You can find the new materials here.
There are two vital organs in our physical bodies, our hearts and our brains. The Bible tends to use these as metaphors. The heart represents our will and emotions, while the brain represents our mind. Our will and emotions govern how we feel and what we do about how we feel. The mind represents what we think about and the attitudes we choose.
The breastplate of faith and love serves to protect the heart. Both must be active. Every action we take should be a demonstration of trust in God. These actions should be motivated by God’s love and expressions of that love for others. When we are trusting God’s love for us, then we can love others and our hearts are protected from the desire to give up. We can persevere.
The helmet of salvation protects the mind. We live in the confidence that we are children of God living with God for eternity. Fear and despair have no place in our minds because we are already alive forever.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV)
Apparently, we find this difficult to do just as the Thessalonians did. Satan uses every weapon possible to increase our doubt and undermine our confidence. Be encouraged. God is with you, now and forever.
For my grandchildren:
Protect your head. Wear a helmet.