By Campus Missionary Mary Rowley, based on 1st Thessalonians 5:1-11
In this passage of 1st Thessalonians, Paul is describing the way we defend ourselves against the devil. “Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (verse 8).
The breastplate is intended to protect your chest – most importantly, your heart. Therefore, faith and love are your heart’s protection. They guard your heart against the attacks of the evil one. When he throws anxiety at you, your faith defends against it. When he shoots rejection at you, the love of God shields you from it.
The helmet, of course, protects your head. In this analogy, hope of salvation safeguards your mind. The knowledge of and confidence in the promises of God can protect your mind against the worst of doubt. Whether it comes through science, history, relatives, friends, or life experiences, doubt cannot win as long as you keep that hope in mind.
It’s interesting that Paul only mentions defense, not offense. He doesn’t tell us to return fire and defeat the devil. We are to be awake and sober, but the only active part we are to play is in encouragement and building each other up. This is because of who we belong to – the day, the light. And who is the light of the world? Jesus, of course. Jesus has already defeated the devil; we don’t need to. All we need to do is use the gifts God has given us – faith, love, and hope – to protect ourselves, prepare for what is to come, and encourage others to do the same.