Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless. Proverbs 13:6a
Did you ever go outside in the winter without a coat? Maybe you had to run to your car to get something or throw a snowball at a friend who was talking outside of school. I remember a student in college who never wore his coat. In the middle of winter, even on the coldest days, he would be outside without a coat.
We usually don’t stay outside too long, especially if it’s one of those winter days when the wind feels like it is going right through you. Ever wonder why don’t we stay outside for a long time without a coat in the winter? Because it’s cold!! Our bodies get cold. It’s that simple to understand. Oh, we may run out for a minute without a coat, but we all know if we are going skiing for the afternoon we need a coat - our parents don’t even have to tell us that!
In the last Teen Scene we learned that God is the source of all truth. When it comes to the armor that we wear as Christians, truth is an all important element in the pieces of armor. Truth is a key component in all pieces, whether it is the belt, shield, sword or breastplate. This month we are going to look at the breastplate.
What is a breastplate and what does it do? If you know anything about armor, the breastplate was a piece of metal that was formed to cover the chest, stomach, a person’s sides and his back. It gave your arms, head, and legs the freedom to move around in battle but protected you in some of the most vital areas of your body. The breastplate provided defensive protection from attack on all sides. Think of the things protected by the breastplate: your lungs, stomach, intestines, kidneys, spinal chord, and especially your heart. If these parts of your body are struck by an enemy’s sword it would mean certain death.
These areas of your body have to be protected in battle. Our enemy the devil is looking to strike you at any time using whatever weapons he can get his hands on. He focuses his attack on our hearts. When you read the Bible you will notice that it speaks of man’s heart often because it is out of the heart that we live. Not the organ that pumps blood, but our thoughts, our desires, and the emotions of our life. That is our heart. The devil wants to influence and control those areas of the heart. God provides a way for Christians to protect that heart and all the other vital organs of life.
What is that protection? What does God provide in the breastplate for protection? Righteousness. Righteousness is something that is done within relationships. One way is in our relationships with other people. We should treat people honestly and justly. Being peaceful with one another (not gossiping or picking on someone else) or being helpful to those in need (helping someone who is being picked on) is acting justly. You could say it is treating others as you would want to be treated.
But righteousness is developed in a more basic relationship other than people. That relationship is with God. Everyone is in relationship with God whether they know it or not and whether they like it or not. That relationship can be either good or bad, but can not be avoided! The relationship with God can not be avoided. God is righteous in His creative work, in His work of salvation and in His work of making us holy (to be set apart for God). When we have a good relationship with God we reflect the good virtues of God but not yet in a perfect way. Some of those virtues would be: goodness, holiness, justice, and righteousness. Righteousness is how we act as Christians all the time.
Where can we get this righteousness so we can have protection? Simply put, in Christ alone. We can not protect ourselves. We can only find protection from the cold in Christ. We do not have goodness, or holiness etc. on our own. In fact deep down our nature hates God and our fellow man. We would rather hide in the crowd than help the one being picked on (and we would be thankful it was not ourselves). We would rather go outside without a coat than listen to our parents. So, we have to get our righteousness from somewhere else. And Christ is where that righteousness can be found so that your heart may be protected. We are not righteous because of ourselves or our faith, but Christ’s righteousness is on us and that is what God sees. He sees us as righteous because of Christ’s work on the cross and we have faith because God puts it in our hearts.
So, are you walking around outside in the middle of winter without a coat, without protection or do you have the breastplate of God? Are you reflecting the character of God in your life as He protects you? Are you ready for the battle of life in righteousness or are your vital organs exposed?
Mr. Dave Vander Meer is the Youth director of Cornerstone United Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Michigan.