By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.
2 Corinthians 6:7.
Attack and Defence
In the passage above, a classic soldier of Christ describes his Ã¢â‚¬Å“armourÃ¢â‚¬Â (KJV), his Ã¢â‚¬Å“weapons of righteousnessÃ¢â‚¬Â (NLT) comprising a piece in the right hand and another in the left hand.Ã‚Â According to the New Living Translation, they are weapons Ã¢â‚¬Å“in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â According to the Living Bible also, they are simplyÃ¢â‚¬Å“weapons for defence and attack.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The Whole Armour of God
Success in battle is not a function only of attack; it is also of defence. In EphesiansÃ‚Â 6:13, we are admonished to put on Ã¢â‚¬Å“the wholeÃ‚Â armour of God.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â In other words, no one piece alone is good enough.Ã‚Â Considering the details of the armour as given in Ephesians chapter 3, the weapon for attack in the right hand would be the sword, and the weapon for defence in the left hand would be the shield.
Every piece of the armour is effective, but no piece is sufficient alone.Ã‚Â No matter what victories or what laurels have been won, anyone who is all sword and no shield, all attack and no defence, will sooner be a casualty.Ã‚Â No matter how powerful a boxerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s punch might be, if he knows only how to land heavy punches but not also how to defend; if he is all attack and no shield, he will not go very far.
One classic battle in the Bible that ended in colossal tragedy for what had been a winning side is the battle of Ai, as narrated bellow:
14 When the king of Ai saw the Israelites across the valley, he andÃ‚Â ALL his armyÃ‚Â hurried outÃ‚Â early in the morningÃ‚Â and ATTACKED the Israelites at a place overlooking the Jordan Valley. But he didn’t realize there was an ambush behind the town. 15 Joshua and the Israelite army fled toward the wilderness as though they were badly beaten. 16 ThenÃ‚Â ALL the MENÃ‚Â in the town were called OUT toÃ‚Â chase afterÃ‚Â them. In this way, they wereÃ‚Â lured awayÃ‚Â from the town. 17 There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not chase after the Israelites, andÃ‚Â the town was left WIDE OPEN.
18Ã‚Â THENÃ‚Â the Lord said to Joshua, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Point the spear in your hand toward Ai, for I will hand the town over to you.Ã¢â‚¬Â Joshua did as he was commanded. 19 As soon as Joshua gave this signal, all the men in ambush jumped up from their position and poured into the town. TheyÃ‚Â quicklyÃ‚Â captured it and set it on fire.
20 When the men of Ai looked behind them, smoke from the town was filling the sky, and theyÃ‚Â hadÃ‚Â nowhere to go. For the Israelites who had fled in the direction of the wilderness now turned on their pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all the other Israelites saw that the ambush had succeeded and that smoke was rising from the town, they turned and attacked the men of Ai. 22 Meanwhile, the Israelites who were inside the town came out and attacked the enemy from the rear. So the men of Ai were caught in the middle, with Israelite fighters on both sides. Israel attacked them, andÃ‚Â NOT A SINGLE PERSON survived or escapedÃ‚Â (Joshua 8:14-22, New Living Translation).
That was how it ended for a succeeding army that thought only of attack and made no plans also for their defence.Ã‚Â They got so carried away with their victory that they left their city open.Ã‚Â Open door policy Ã¢â‚¬â€œ that was how they lost all the gains they had previously made.
In his early days, David had also been a victim of this corporate tactical error.Ã‚Â He had gone out with his warriors on a raid and had left his camp at Ziklag, with their wives and children, defenceless.Ã‚Â While they were out, the Amalekites had invaded and captured all the women and children.Ã‚Â The returning soldiers were heartbroken.Ã‚Â There was such lamentation and dispute among his rank and file that there almost was a mutiny.Ã‚Â A plot was already afoot to execute David by stoning (1 Samuel 30:1-6).Ã‚Â Alas, the consequences of a conquering people without defence; of strong swords without shields.
When David set out to recover what had been lost to his shield-LESS blunder, he was careful to not repeat the same error that had brought about the damage he was out to repair.Ã‚Â He divided his soldiers into two groups: theÃ‚Â sword-forceÃ‚Â (to join him in pursuing the Amalekites to recover what had been lost) and theÃ‚Â shield-forceÃ‚Â (to stay behind and guard their remnant stuff).Ã‚Â In the end, everyone was to share the booty equally, even though that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go down well with everyone, especially those who believed that only sword-carriers were active warriors and deserved any merit (vv. 10, 21-25).
DavidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Recovery Organization comprised six hundred soldiers.Ã‚Â Two hundred had become so exhausted that they could drive no further.Ã‚Â David nevertheless found a way to still put their tiredness into productive use.Ã‚Â If their legs were too tired go, their eyes were not.Ã‚Â They would stay back and guard everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stuff.Ã‚Â In other words, we might not all be good runners or fighters, yet some of those could be good watchers, and the good leader should be able to know when to reassign even some fighters as watcher; to let active pursuers for some breathing moment be restful keepers.
On the personal level, Samson appears to be another who was victim to the same shieldlessness.Ã‚Â It came out in his last rather boastful outing speech: Ã¢â‚¬Å“I will go out as at other times before, and shake myselfÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â (JudgesÃ‚Â 16:20).Ã‚Â He spoke apparently only of attack and not also of defence.Ã‚Â He was going to Ã¢â‚¬Å“go out,Ã¢â‚¬Â but how was he also going to look back?Ã‚Â All his previous victories got apparently wiped out in one defenceless moment in the Valley of Sorek (Judges 16:4).
In corporate and ministerial affairs also, this principle of sword-and-shield applies.Ã‚Â Paul, who used the expression in his letter to the Corinthians, narrates an instance when he had to apply it in managing the charities that had been donated by the satellite churches to support the famine-threatened brethren in Jerusalem.Ã‚Â He was not only about outreaches, he also took care to work out strategies of self-defence.Ã‚Â Hear him:
18 We are also sendingÃ‚Â another brotherÃ‚Â WITH Titus. AllÃ‚Â the churches PRAISE himÃ‚Â as a preacher of the Good News. 19 He wasÃ‚Â appointed by the churchesÃ‚Â to accompany usÃ‚Â as we take the offeringÃ‚Â to JerusalemÃ¢â‚¬â€a service that glorifies the Lord and shows ourÃ‚Â eagernessÃ‚Â to helpÃ‚Â [eagerness to help, notwithstanding, there was precaution].
20 We areÃ‚Â traveling togetherÃ‚Â TO GUARD AGAINST ANY CRITICISM for the way we are handling this generous gift. 21 We are CAREFUL to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorableÃ‚Â (2 Corinthians 8:18-21, New Living Translation).
Let us see how it is stated in The Message Bible:
8 We’re sending a companion along with him, someoneÃ‚Â very popularÃ‚Â in the churches for his preaching of the Message. 19 But there’s far more to him than popularity. He’s rock-solidÃ‚Â trustworthy. TheÃ‚Â churchES handpicked himÃ‚Â to go with us as we travel about doing this work of sharing God’s gifts to honor God as well as we can, 20 taking everyÃ‚Â precaution against scandal.
We don’t want anyone suspecting us of taking one penny of this money for ourselves. 21 We’re being asÃ‚Â carefulÃ‚Â in our reputation with the public as in our reputation with GodÃ‚Â (2 Corinthians 8:18-21, The Message).
Some pastors do not attend to official matters at home; it is their shield.Ã‚Â Some male pastors would generally not counsel with some women alone in a private place without some Ã¢â‚¬ËœdefenceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ structure in place.Ã‚Â Some pastors, even though they are signatories to the church account, do not keep the cheque books with them.Ã‚Â That is their shield.Ã‚Â Some people are careful what they eat and where, not taking for granted the grace of God to protect them.Ã‚Â That is a shield too.Ã‚Â Each one knows their weak area and works how to Ã¢â‚¬ËœshieldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ themselves. One personÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weakness is not usually someone elseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s weakness, which is why each one designs their Ã¢â‚¬ËœshieldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ differently. Ã‚Â Paul states clearly what steps were put in place not only to please God but also to take the fair feelings of ordinary mortals into consideration.
Not only in ministry but also in business and family life, shields are vital, no matter the gains we make by swords. If mighty men like Goliath still needed shields, in fact, a shield-man called an armour-bearer (1 Samuel 17:7); if the anointed David and the regal Saul also needed shields and armour-bearers as well as their swords, then we more (1 Samuel 30:1; 31:4).Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the leftÃ¢â‚¬Â (2 Corinthians 6:7).Ã‚Â Amen.
from The Preacher’s diary
September 25, 2017