Athlete, Faith is a Shield
Ephesians 6:16 (ESV)
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.
I often find myself using the words “faith” and “belief” interchangeably. It’s an easy enough mistake, especially when I want to diversify my writing instead of dropping eighteen mentions of “faith” in one paragraph.
But man, I forget there’s a whole universe of difference between those two words. Belief is contained in my mind; faith is the next step — the action, the doing, the practice. It’s one thing to choose to believe; it’s an entirely next-level move to wager on that belief, doing something hard or uncomfortable — like choosing to truly forgive someone, or practicing generosity with your time or finances, or extending radical compassion and grace to someone who wronged you — in the name of Jesus.
One writer in the Bible describes this potently in the book of James: “You believe that God is one; you do well … So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:19,17).
Sounds risky, right? And yet, Paul describes this kind of faith as a shield. It sounds ironic, but makes more sense when I think of the ways I consciously rely and depend on God so much more in those moments when I step out in risky faith.
Priscilla Shirer describes faith as “acting like God is telling the truth.” When I act in faith — that is, when I serve, sacrifice or choose some other method of pausing my daily nosedive into my own comforts, and seek to uplift someone else instead — I am also choosing to shield myself against a tailspin of self-centeredness and other spiritual forces of evil.
Athlete, what’s one way you can take up this shield and walk in faith today?