Daily Cross Daily Armor
Statistically speaking, people don’t follow through on new things; one study found only 8% of people who make resolutions for a new year actually follow through with them. Socrates would have equated this to Akrasia, or a lack of self-control.
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” (Galatians 5:22-23)
“A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.” (Proverbs 25:28)
Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, so we can logically conclude that self-control is not something we have very much of apart from God. Without self-control, like a city with broken-down walls, we are easily defeated. Whether someone has self-control or lacks it, it tends to be obvious. For example, if in this new year you sign up for some online lessons and the instructor gives you a specific thing to work on between sessions, it will show if you work on that diligently. If, however, you lack the discipline and self-control to practice, then that too will show in the next lesson. It’s going to be obvious whether you have been diligent with self-control or lacking in it.
“Then he (Jesus) said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23)
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)
Jesus said that if we want to be His follower, we need to give up our own way and take up our cross daily. Paul instructed Christ followers to put on all of God’s armor. There’s a thing about the cross and the armor of God: both will feel very heavy if you are not used to carrying them. When soldiers train in boot camp, they train with weighted vests or they run carrying heavy loads because the average weight of the gear a soldier will have to carry ranges from 60-100 pounds. If the soldiers don’t prepare to carry that weight each day, they will be crushed under it.
“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
Too often, we will take off the armor of God so that we can experience what this world has to offer. If there is a new streaming show that everyone is talking about but it’s full of explicit content, we might take some of the armor off and watch the show, filling our minds with the language and explicit images of the show. If you take off the helmet of salvation so you can fill your head with those things, then when you put that helmet back on, it’s going to feel heavy. It’s going to be harder and harder to fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable if you are spending your time filling your head with the things of this world. It is when we keep the armor on, it is when we pick up our crosses daily that we can stand firmly on the Truth of the Gospel—and the more we do it, the more natural it will become for us. You won’t feel like you are missing out on the evils this world offers if you have self-control and you consistently put on your armor and pick up your cross. This year, above all of the other goals you have set for yourself, none could be higher than to dedicate yourself to picking up your cross and putting on the full armor of God daily.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.