The Shoes of Readiness of the Gospel of Peace
Protection against Emotional Instability
The meaning of shoes of readiness is best expressed in the Amplified Version:
And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15 AMP)
Let’s begin with examining what it is that makes the Gospel of Jesus a gospel of peace.
You are probably familiar with the introductory verse to the well-known Christmas carol:
Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth…
Peace on earth? Has there ever been a time since Jesus’ birth when there was not a war going on somewhere – not to mention the troubled situations within all societies that can be described as anything but peaceful?
Jesus himself said that he had not come to bring peace on earth, and that instead he had brought a sword! (Matthew 10:34) This is not difficult to comprehend when you consider the religious persecution against Christians, even within families, which is worse now than ever.
How does this square up to the warm and fuzzy Christmas idea of peace on the earth and goodwill amongst all men?
It all stems from a faulty interpretation of what the host of angels sang on the night of Jesus’ birth.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests. (Luke 2:14 NIV)
Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. (Luke 2:14 KJV)
The angels were not rejoicing because of peace and goodwill amongst men. They were rejoicing because of peace and goodwill TOWARD men FROM God!
This is the foundation of the Gospel of peace. The end of the war between God and man was heralded by the birth of Jesus. It finally ended on the cross.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Romans 5:1 NIV)
For God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things … by making peace through his blood shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19 NIV)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the punishment which brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5 NIV)
This is peace WITH God. If you are a born-again child of God, you need have no fear of eternal death or punishment. God has reconciled you to Himself, through Jesus. If you still have doubts about whether you are going to heaven, it means one of two things: either you are indeed not saved, or you have a faulty idea about salvation. (More about that when we discuss the helmet of salvation.)
Springing directly from this reconciliation, and the knowledge that you are God’s child, and that He cares for you more than you can ever know or imagine (1 Peter 5:7), is the peace OF God.
And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
The key to being filled with the peace of God lies in the following two Scriptures:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is fixed on you because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3 NIV)
You have to put your faith in Him and then you have to trust Him! If you keep your mind fixed on Him and not on your outward circumstances, you will have perfect peace.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)
The Amplified Version makes it even clearer – in fact, painfully clear!
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear – ouch!) but [he has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of a calm and well-balanced mind and self-discipline and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7 AMP)
If you wake up in the middle of the night all panic-stricken for no good reason (3 a.m. seems to be his favourite time to attack); or if you are unreasonably anxious; or if you persistently worry; or if you have any phobias; you can be sure of one thing – that fear is inspired by the devil. When he does that, remember that you have the Shoes of Readiness and take your stand:
Get behind me, Satan! I rebuke you and tell you I do not accept this fear. God has given me a spirit of power and of love and a calm, sound mind! Thank you, Lord, for the peace which passes all understanding, which guards my mind and my heart in Jesus!
Emotional instability also includes anger.
Everyone should be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:20 NIV)
We have already looked at the list of the forms of anger given in Ephesians. Let’s take another look at it and see what Paul says is the solution to angry outbursts.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
Forgiving someone who has deeply offended you or wounded you can be just about the hardest thing you will ever do. (I speak from experience.) This is especially true if the person does not apologise, or doesn’t think he or she has done anything wrong.
There are two reasons why you MUST forgive:
- The Lord requires it of you. If you refuse to forgive it means that you do not realise the extent to which God has forgiven you. And if you think that you have never done to God what Joe Soap or Jane Doe did to you, then you are forgetting that ALL sin is abhorrent to God. Also ask yourself how often Joe or Jane committed the grievous offence against you, then add up all the sins you have committed in your life. (Not to mention those sins which you have repeated countless times!) Remember that every sin is an offence to God. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant explains this principle perfectly. (Matthew 18:21-35) Take especial note of what Jesus says in verse 35. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (NIV)
- Unforgiveness harms your health – both physically and mentally. Carrying unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking deadly poison and then expecting the person who has offended you to die. You have, in effect, given them power over you, as they can dominate your thoughts and influence your mood. NB! You are not forgiving the person for his or her sake. In fact, you don’t have to communicate with them at all (unless you feel the Lord is requiring it of you). You are doing it for your sake.
The enemy is particularly persistent with regard to anger. You will be busy with something, your mind far removed from Joe Soap and Jane Doe. The enemy will sneak up behind you, and simply whisper their name in your ear. That is all it requires. He doesn’t need to remind you of what they did. Just the thought of them releases the memory and before you know it you are once again seething. Cortisol is released in large quantities and your peace is destroyed.
Make a list of all the people who have offended you. (Mine was very long, and went back to my early childhood. Yes, I was an Olympic Gold Medalist in Grudgebearing.) Now, one by one, out loud so that Satan can hear you, forgive them. Cross each one off the list. (Go on to another one if you come across a name that makes you choke. I had one person on my list whom I desired to do nothing but knock her over with my car and then reverse over her a few times. I had another one [a pastor!!!] whom I wished God would strike dead with a bolt of lightning! It took me quite a number of times of actively forgiving these two before I was sure that I had truly forgiven them. This was over 20 years ago and I am happy to say that if I had to meet either of them today, I would be able to greet them politely and even be prepared to show them kindness. In fact, I feel compassion for them. Both of them had major underlying issues.)
Once you have forgiven the person, bless him or her with whatever you think they need. Say, for example, Joe Soap was unkind and unfair to you. Then you bless him with a kind and loving heart and spirit of justice. If Jane Doe told lies about you and betrayed a confidence, then bless her with a spirit of truthfulness and a spirit of loyalty. Again, declare this blessing out loud so that Satan can hear you. (Contrary to some teaching, he cannot read your thoughts. Only God can do that. It just seems that way because he has had about 6000 years to study mankind. He is very skilled at reading facial expressions and body language. He also knows every detail of your life and exactly what pushes your buttons!)
Satan will soon stop reminding you of Joe and Jane if you bless them every time he mentions their names. You will be surprised to discover how seldom you will think of them and their perfidy!
Now, should Satan come to test you and feed a contentious name into your ear, stand firm in your Shoes of Readiness:
Get behind me, Satan! I forgive (have forgiven) Joe Soap and Jane Doe because my heavenly Father has forgiven me. I bless Joe with a kind and loving heart and I bless Jane Doe with a spirit of truthfulness. Thank you, Lord, for forgiving me all my sins. Thank you for the peace which passes all understanding, which guards my mind and my heart in Christ Jesus!