It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
I used to be a slave to mental illness. It drove me up and pulled me down. It took all my strength to survive the endless days on the roller coaster.
Medicine kept me alive, and thank God for that. My prayers and the prayers of others kept me moving forward, slowly.
But God’s Word set me free, because it gave me hope. God’s Word showed me how to get off of the roller coaster.
He showed me that I didn’t have to fight it alone. I’m not limited to my own strength or resources in this fight. I have access to His strength and His resources to move from chaos to peace.
And now that I’m no longer on the roller coaster, He has called me to help those who still are.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I couldn’t love others the way He wanted me to when I was a slave to my illness; but now that I’m a slave to His Word, I have access to all of His love and I’m able to pass it on to everyone around me.
I started this series on the armor of God because He told me to come out from behind the wall I’d built around my heart.
I said, “Yes, sir,” and proceeded to study how the armor protects me as I travel through the war zone of loving broken people. (Links to the previous posts are below.)
But all the armor in the world is useless if I never leave home.
I spent most of my life trying to prove to everyone around me that I wasn’t stupid. I’ve had thousands of arguments in my head with anyone and everyone, defending myself against accusations that I’m not good enough or that I’m doing everything wrong.
Sometimes I knew the accusations and arguments were lies. Many times I fought them with the Word of God. I cast down the imaginations (II Cor. 10:5), I renewed my mind (Rom. 12:2), and I reaffirmed that I was the righteousness of God in Christ (II Cor. 5:21).
But the end result was that I spent a lot of time fighting my own mind, and not loving others. Even worse, the lies in my mind made me question why I should bother to love other people in the first place.
I needed something to surround my mind with His truth.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
How does the message of salvation stop the arguing and fighting in my mind?
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
When I remember what Jesus did for me through His death and resurrection, I remember that He defeated my mental illness on the cross and I now live in His peace.
So when the symptoms of paranoia, insecurity, depression, or anxiety flare up, I don’t have to fight them alone. I put on the helmet of salvation and rest in His strength. I have to do my part to fight the symptoms, but I’m not fighting them in my own strength.
And when I put on the helmet of salvation daily and I intentionally remember that Christ lives in me, then I’m able to accept His call to go out and love others.
II Corinthians 5:18-19
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
The belt, breastplate, shoes, and shield protect me while I’m loving others. The helmet reminds me why I’m loving others.
So when loving people is hard or doesn’t look like it’s worth the effort, I don’t give up because the helmet reminds me why I’m here.
How has remembering what Jesus provided for you helped you to reach out and love others?
Photo credit: skeeze
This post is the sixth in a series on the Armor of God. The first five posts are linked below.
Replacing Emotional Walls with the Armor of God
The Belt of Truth Strengthens My Soul
The Breastplate of Righteousness Is a Healthy Boundary
Sturdy Shoes on a Foundation of Peace
The Shield of Faith Helps Me Love My Enemy