God’s Little Jerks
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness . . . Ephesians 6:14
I have considerable drive time every day, which I usually use to think about the Bible passage for the next day’s blog. I’m sure that sounds very spiritual, but yesterday, as I was meditating, I pulled up to a stoplight, where my thoughts were interrupted by the booming of a ridiculously loud stereo coming from the car next to me. I was annoyed. What an idiot! I looked over to see exactly what I imagined I would. Punk in a mullet. You’re probably not driving to work like I am. Probably on your way to buy drugs. I’ll see you soon in jail . . .
I’m a little ashamed to tell you how quickly my thoughts turned dark, but it’s important to today’s passage, which is about maintaining truth and righteousness. Sitting there, I may have been right to assess the ultra-loud stereo as disruptive. It was, perhaps, a selfish behavior of a kid with a “who cares what the world thinks” attitude. He did interrupt my meditation time. If I had any moral high ground though, I surrendered it as soon as I began to wish evil upon him. I may have been right for a moment, but I became wrong in how I handled the situation, even if it was only in my mind.
I do this often. In any disagreement with others, the more right I think I am and the more wrong I think the other person is, the more arrogant, condescending, and hostile I become. If the conflict involves faith and recovery, then I’m even more zealous because I believe my opinion is based on God’s truth. In my defense of what I believe to be right, I’m overthrown by my own passion, and act horribly. I can be right and still act wrong.
In today’s passage, describing the armor of God, Paul commanded us to put on truth, but also righteousness. It isn’t enough to simply believe in what’s right. We must also live rightly. If, in defense of God’s truth, we act like demons, then we’re no longer on God’s side.
This is a problem for us as Christians. So often, we believe we know God’s truth and we want to defend it, but we’re flawed creatures. In our passion for truth, we smash others over the head with it. Putting on truth and righteousness though, is something that Paul commanded we do to ourselves first. Before we can stand for truth, we must first display love, kindness, and compassion, living rightly ourselves. God doesn’t need us to be his little jerks.