Heart health

Living a life of faith is the most wonderful path possible, I am convinced.  But that doesn't mean it's easy.  Sometimes - lots of times - it's downright hard.  Our goals seem to often collide with those of the world around us, resulting in stress.  The enemy of our souls is clearly in opposition to a life of faith, which means continual conflict.  Not to mention the war going on inside us, the struggle to think the right things, do the right things, stand for the right things.  More stress.  More conflict.

God doesn't leave us defenseless.  Ephesians 6:10-18 explains how He equips us to successfully wage the wars we will inevitably face.  Not that we get to avoid the war, mind you.  But how to avoid injury and defeat. Let's focus today on the breastplate of righteousness...


The image evoked by this passage was a sight familiar to the readers of the day - that of the Roman soldier, dressed for battle.  The breastplate was a heavy piece of metal, covering the front, back, and sides of the wearer in the chest area, providing protection for the vital organs. Without it, the soldier was completely vulnerable to the spears and arrows of the enemy.

How does that apply in the spiritual sense? The Christian is counted as completely righteous before God at the moment of personal salvation. Christ's perfection is credited to our account, instead of the sins and flaws and imperfections that actually define us.  This righteousness is permanent and is completely without our effort.  We just receive the free gift God offers through Christ.

The breastplate of righteousness, though, is something that we "put on".  We participate in this covering of our heart.  So I think this passage is not referring to the righteousness that is imputed to us at salvation but rather the practical, dynamic righteousness of living the life of faith.  By that I mean the maintaining of our fellowship with God by being convicted of sin, confessing it, and then receiving the cleansing of all unrighteousness by the Holy Spirit.   Putting on righteousness.  Living in obedience to His Word and adjusting our lives to it.  Confession.  Repentance.  Cleansing.  Continuously.

We all seek to protect our hearts from injury but often we are tempted to resort to self-protection.  Withdrawal from potential pain.  Avoidance.  Denial.  Defensiveness.  These methods don't protect our hearts from injury -- they harden it.

Being aware of our constant need for God to forgive us and change us and give us grace is what protects our hearts successfully.  Enables us to avoid defeat. Assures victory in the conflicts of this life.  Guarding our heart.  For out of it flow the springs of life.