“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”
Paul is in the final section of his lengthy letter. He has meandered his way through a maze of thoughts and instructions, doing a Holy Spirit-inspired brain dump, tailor-made just for his friends in Ephesus. And he now wants to leave them with a model that they, and so many since, have found very helpful. He introduces this section with the encouragement to be strong in our faith, our strength coming from the Lord and the power that is available to us through Him.
Paul wasn’t the only Bible writer advocating the strength of the Lord. Isaiah 41:10 reads, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand“. Another verse is in Psalm 27:1, “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid“? The strength we find in God is freely available, if only we ask.
But to our ubiquitous Christian pilgrim, what does “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” actually mean? And how will such an inspiring exhortation help us? In our life journey, we will be attacked on all sides from an enemy who wants to stop us in any way he can, from entering into God’s presence. And he does that through temptations, lies, leveraging our human proclivity for sin; in fact in any way where he can find a weakness. So this verse in Paul’s letter reminds us that in God we have all the power and strength to overcome the devil’s strategies and stay on the path mapped out for us. An admirable example of this was when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the devil even using passages of Scripture to try and trip Him up. But He stayed “strong in the Lord“. Jesus’ example of using Scripture is one we too can follow. So we need to read the Bible. There is an amazing wealth of strength and power in this Book. And as we become more and more familiar with the Scriptures, we will become more able to find the strength we need in the times of testing. Another powerful resource is the Holy Spirit Himself. Jesus said that He will be an Advocate, our Helper. God Himself standing alongside us, resourcing us when in need of power and strength.
So this “final word” really puts the icing on the cake of Paul’s letter. In the coming days we will look at the ways in which this power and strength can be distilled using the illustration of a Roman soldier’s armour and attire. An amazing resource for the pilgrim of today.