I had sort of an epiphany a few weeks ago as I sat in church. It was completely unrelated to the speaker’s message, but it was extremely important for me. In case you haven’t caught on yet, I’m very interested in balanced Christianity. There are extremes in nearly every issue, and I believe very strongly that a Christian must be wary of falling into extremes, since they’re usually not in agreement with God’s word.
Anyway, here was the epiphany: as I sat in church, it suddenly hit me that no matter who is speaking, I’m supposed to listen to everyone with my spiritual armor on.
What, you may ask, does it mean to listen with armor on? I’ll tell you. It basically means listening with a mindset of checking everything you hear against the Word of God, the Bible, before accepting or rejecting it. It’s like filtering everything through the armor of God as described in Ephesians 6:14-18:
“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
That was it. That was the epiphany. Such a simple thing that I guess I’ve always known, but never given real, conscious thought. The Bible says, “Test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NLT)
No matter who speaks, writes, or leads, I shouldn’t drink in their every word without first making sure it’s in agreement with God’s word. If it lines up with that, then great: I can incorporate it into my life. If not, then I should respectfully leave it and move on. After all, Jesus comes first. He’s the One I’m living my life for. He’s the One who gave His life to save me. He’s the only One who actually knows what’s best. Why not check everything with Him before accepting or rejecting it?
I don’t know about you, but I find that freeing. I’m not obligated to accept everything that’s said, no matter how persuasively stated. I don’t have to live my life by every word of a human. I have a standard I can look to, and when a human goes against that standard or adds to it, I can respectfully refuse to follow him or her, and remain on the path my Redeemer laid out in His word.
That’s what listening with armor on means to me. What do you think?