“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” — Paul, in Ephesians 6:16

Ephesians 6:10-18
Hebrews 11:1-3
Matthew 8:5-12

I love to ask young people revealing questions, like: “Who among you is the laziest and the hardest working?” This one always sets off a rousing debate.

Ponder the thought. When it comes to work, am I a lightweight or a heavy lifter? Having formerly employed lots of varying individuals, I would choose one hard-working heavy lifter over 10 whimpish, constantly complaining lightweights any day of the week.

If you’re one of those lightweights, don’t worry, you’re in good company. Jesus, whose hiring practices were dreadful at best, chose a host of lemmings. He himself often referred to them as “Little Faiths”. They constantly missed the point and often forgot about Jesus’ power to perform the grandest miracles. Sometimes hours after the last miracle.

When Jesus chooses to bestow the Greatest Faith Award (the GFA), he picks a pagan Roman, of all people. If this doesn’t ring a bell, please refer back to the Matt. 8 reading above. According to Jesus, faith was that invisible power that shows up when you least expect it, and from the person from whom you’d least expect it. But don’t worry, the Little Faiths make a great comeback later in the story.

Jesus refers to faith as work. When asked how to do the works of God, Jesus says: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). Aha. So the heavy lifters are the Big Faiths in the work.

This shouldn’t surprise us.

When Paul describes the outfit for spiritual war, he chooses the shield to equate with faith. Paul chose from an assortment of shields to make his point. He chose “Thureos”, a grand oblong shield carried by the heavily armed soldier. Consisting of two think layers of wood, the Thureos would absorb the flaming arrows and extinguish them. It was the ultimate protection.

But it was also heavy and cumbersome. The average infantryman would have to lug his shield through hill and dell for the next battle. This was no doubt tiring.

Faith often feels this way. It would be easier to roll over and give up. When everything beckons the other way, faith reminds us to believe, hold fast and take the narrow way. Ultimately, it is in this faith that we find ultimate security.

“Believe in the one he has sent,” Jesus exhorts.

Do the heavy lifting. The work is in believing.

How is faith like heavy lifting?
How does faith protect?
Does holding up my faith make me tired sometimes? Describe one occasion.


© 2005