Summary: The Gospel of Christ will prepare and enable us to take spiritual ground and build healthier relationships.
(Getting Ready to Take Some Ground)
Introduction: This is week four in our series “Eight Essential Exercises for Building a Better Body.” We’ve seen our need to find our strength in the Lord. Without His strength, we can’t even complete the rest of the exercises and our relationships will suffer.
We’ve seen our need to make certain that our relationships are supported by and grounded in integrity. Without that belt of truth strapped around us, we cannot stand and our relationships crumble.
Last week we considered the need to access the righteousness of Christ. We need to be right with God before we can be right in our relationships with others, and the way we get right with God is we allow the righteousness of Christ to be given to us. And then we ask him to fill us, to dwell in us and actually change our character so that we are truly a righteous people.
This week we need to consider our need to be actively preparing to advance. The motto of the Boy Scouts is “always be prepared.” That’s a great motto, and Paul understood the need to be prepared. When he told us to have on, or put on the shoes of readiness that result from the Gospel he we was telling us to be prepared. A man without shoes is not prepared for much.
In order to be prepared for action, a soldier on the front lines will sleep with his boots on at times. Having shoes on your feet is a symbol of readiness. It means you are prepared for action. You are prepared to go somewhere.
When Merita and I take the kids and leave the house, the last thing we do is get shoes on all the kids. Once all of the shoes are on, then we are ready to go. You don’t leave the house to go someplace without shoes. Having your shoes on means that you’re ready.
Paul knew that the soldier in his day wore shoes that kept him prepared for action. Often when we think of the shoes worn in the Mediterranean world of the first century we think of sandals. But the sandals worn by the Roman soldier were different than the sandals worn by the every day citizen.
The sandals of the Roman soldier were designed for war, not for peace. When on duty he kept his sandals on so that he would be ready for action.
To be prepared for combat you need quite a different shoe than you do for going to the corner store. These were specialized sandals. They had a thick sole to protect the soldiers feet from the hot sand and from sharp rocks. They also had nails driven through the soles, giving the sandals the ability to hold firm on sandy or slippery ground. Good footing was essential in winning a war and these shoes gave the soldier the good footing he needed. He wouldn’t slip or loose ground because the spikes would bite into the earth and help him hold firm.
These shoes also helped the soldier to advance. A retreating army is rarely a winning army, but an army that can advance and take ground is an army that wins wars. The shoes of the soldier are designed for taking ground, advancing, and holding that ground, standing firm.
A soldier in bare feet was of little use to his company. He was not prepared for action. He could not stand his ground and he was ill-prepared to advance when the call to move forward came. Having on the right shoes was essential to preparation.
Paul uses this analogy when he tells the Christian to put on the “shoes of readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace.”
Read with me from Ephesians 6:10-18 again.
Ep. 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ep. 6:11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ep. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ep. 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ep. 6:14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
Ep. 6:15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ep. 6:16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.