Equipped, but Untested
It’s a humorous image at first glance: young, little David struggles to walk (let alone maneuver) under the cumbersome weight of the armor and sword of King Saul. That humor quickly evaporates, however, when we recall why David had this stuff on in the first place: he was about to fight a giant (1 Samuel 17:38-39).
David was equipped with helpful instruments of warfare, but they did him no good; he hadn’t tested them or practiced with them, so they would only hinder him in the fight. How many Christians grow weary, succumb to temptation, cave into bitterness, struggle with doubt, weaken in prayer, or resign to complacency because they aren’t taking advantage of what God has provided for our journey in this life?
The Lord’s church grows when it is fed with the truth; Christians grow in their faith, likewise, when they have taken up the whole armor that God has supplied them (Ephesians 6:10-20). Earlier in his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes that “[Christ] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood…” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Those who teach and lead in the truth (as well as those through whom truth was revealed in the first century) all serve in their roles so that every Christian might walk in a manner worthy of the gospel and fight the good fight of faith.
But what if a Christian doesn’t “test the armor,” so to speak? We have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), but that doesn’t mean we are all using every spiritual blessing found in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Are you a Christian desiring to please your Father? Then you must take up the tools that He is providing through the body of His Son, that is, the church.
How many opportunities do you have in a given week to assemble with God’s people? There’s a reason the elders have appointed a second service on Sunday and midweek gatherings, not to mention the host of classes every week and month and the special series of lessons throughout the year. And there are certainly no shortages of ways to participate in the work, to serve other saints, and to make the worship the best it can be each Lord’s day. When we neglect to meet together and stir one another up, we are leaving God-given resources by the wayside and endangering our souls (Hebrews 10:23-25). This, by the way, applies to connecting with brothers and sisters outside of the church building. We must share life with one another!
David couldn’t use Saul’s equipment, but that doesn’t mean he was unequipped. In 1 Samuel 17:40, he takes off the raiment of a warring king and picks up the panoply of a simple shepherd to take with him to the battle line: a staff, a pouch, five smooth stones, and a sling. Just as Goliath mocked David, the world may deride and devalue the Christian’s equipment, how he trains with it and how she uses it in her walk of faith. But we know that God-supplied armor will allow us to find victory in the Chief Shepherd of our souls!