“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” -Ephesians 6:16
Up to this point in the Armor of God passage in Ephesians 6:14-18, we have put on our belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shoes of the gospel of peace. Next we come to a piece armor that we don’t “put on”. We are now called to “take up" the shield of faith, with which we can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”. (Ephesians 6:16)
A Roman soldier’s shield in the days of Paul would have been large enough for him to hide behind. It was covered in leather that could be soaked in water and used to put out flame-tipped arrows that were used in battle. In this scripture, the flaming arrows can represent anything that the enemy uses against us such as discouragement, doubt, discontentment or fear. No matter what arrows Satan uses to attack us, we must take up the shield of faith to protect ourselves from his assaults.
One thing that sets this crucial piece of equipment apart from the rest is that we can use it to protect ourselves, and when we join together in Christian community our shields can become even stronger.
In the movie 300, we see a visual of this truth played out. The movie depicts the battle between 300 Spartan soldiers led by King Leonidas against Xerxes and his much larger Persian army at Thermopylae. When watching the battle scenes in this movie, one can’t help but marvel at this small group of determined men who knew if they fought as a single unit working together, they would be much stronger and harder to defeat.
These warriors would join together and use their shields to protect the man to their left from thigh to neck. This formation was called a phalanx, and it was one of the most effective and enduring military formations in ancient warfare. In this formation the soldiers would fend off blows with their shields and hold the formation tightly in order to break through the ranks on the other side.
When Christians band together with our shields in phalanx formation, it strengthens our faith. When we surround ourselves with other believers and help one another through doubt, fear or hard circumstances, we form a stronger barrier against the flaming arrows aimed our way.
So, take up your shield of faith and stand firm with your sisters in Christ! Our faith is not meant to be walked out alone. One shield is a good defense, but many bound together are not easily broken.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12