All my growing-up-in-church life, I consistently heard there is only one piece of God’s armor that is offensive: the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Let’s challenge that by expanding how we view the shield of faith.
When life is hitting hard and attacks are coming from all directions, Ephesians 6:16 assures us that we have protection if we pick it up: In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. So, the shield of faith is given to protect us from attacks. However, if we know more about the way shields were used during the time Paul wrote Ephesians (AD62), I think we’ll see there is more we can do with our shield to operate in power during life’s battles.
At the time of the Roman invasion of Britain (AD43) most Roman shields were rectangular and curved, like part of a cylinder. This shield is called a scutum. In battle the shield was held with the arm straight, holding a grip in the middle. The grip was across a hole cut from the middle of the shield. This hole was protected by a metal boss, a hemisphere of iron with an iron plate around it. The soldier could push this boss into his enemy to knock him off balance.1
You’re familiar with a head-butt, yes?
What if we learned to spiritually “shield-butt”?
When we feel like things are falling apart/are out of control and we don’t see how we can move forward, understanding that we have the ability to shield-butt is empowering. When circumstances are hard, we can either cower under our shield of faith or we can rise up under its protection and operate in power during the battle.
- Remember to pick it up. 2 Samuel 22:31 “As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in him.” This God stands ready to be your defender and protector. By faith, call to Him—not your family, your friend nor Facebook—before doing anything when an attack hits. God will set your shield in place. You will feel His strength transfer to you.
- Realize its power. 2 Samuel 22:2-3 “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.” You are being protected and guided by the all-powerful God. Stand up with that shield and push back at the attacks by stating in your mind and out loud that you are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). You will feel equipped to deal with whatever comes.
- Recognize that shields come in all sizes. 2 Samuel 22:36 You make your saving help my shield; your help has made me great.” As you continue, by faith, to reach for your shield every time an attack hits, your spiritual muscles will continue to develop. You will be able to grasp and wield shields of greater size.
During a particularly tough time when I was on staff at a church, I was crying out to God. He showed me some of the spiritual attacks that were being leveled at the church. I remember being on my knees and saying, “I’m raising my shield over her [the church], but I’m only one.” That’s when God taught me that shields come in varied sizes and that He had given me a big one for this battle. When I got off my knees, I felt empowered with His strength, equipped to handle what would come and knew I was continuing to build my spiritual muscles as I gave the mess a good spiritual shield-butt in prayer.
Don’t cower; take up that shield!
1North, Tony. “Roman Shields.” Time Trips. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2017. <http://www.timetrips.co.uk/rom-art-scutum.htm>.