Hang Onto the Shield of Faith (Thurs. Dec. 31)

The word of the day is “confidence.”  In times of trial, what do we need to endure?  Our reading of Hebrews 10:35-11:17 answers, “Therefore, do not cast away your confidence which has a great reward” (vs. 35).

The Greek word that is translated as “confidence” is derived from the term for outspoken speech. From this, we get the thought of “boldness” (Strong’s #3954, 194).  Such assurance will see us through the ordeals that we face until we receive the reward of our determination.

Do Not Cast Away Our Shield

By all means, the apostle teaches that we must never “cast away” our confidence.  The author may have been thinking of the shield that soldiers in Greece and Rome carried into battle.  They were either to bring the shield back victorious or others would lay their body on it and carry it home.  To lose one’s shield in combat was a capital offense.  It suggested that the fighter had deserted and tried to run away. The penalty was execution or banishment.

But the apostle writes that “we are not those who draw back to perdition” (vs. 39.) The word in the Greek refers to those who “shrink back” (Strong’s #5289, 260) like those who pull back from battle.  Rather than quit the fight, the apostle writes, we are those who “believe to the saving of the soul” (vs. 39).  The word in the Greek text is “faith,” the conviction of the truth, the reliance on God (Strong’s #4102, 202).  It is the opposite of surrendering to the trials that we face.

The thoughts of confidence, boldness, assurance, and belief are all summed up in the overarching theme of faith.  In short, faith is the shield that we should never cast aside.  Thus, St. Paul instructs us “to take the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

Faith is Our Sure Defense

Faith is our sure defense against the assaults of temptation, doubt, despair, and despondency.  Without faith, we are at the mercy of spiritual forces that are too much for us.  But by putting our trust in the Lord, we can resist and rebuff every kind of onslaught that threatens us.

So let us not cast aside our faith because the Lord seems to be slow in fulfilling His promises.  Let us not give up when It seems that God is not answering our prayers.  Let us not grow “weary of well-doing” because we do not yet see the fruits of our effort (Gal. 6:9). When the forces of evil seem to prevail against the good, let us never surrender to their powers. But let us hang onto faith, especially in difficult times, for it is our invincible shield against all the challenges that we face.

For Reflection

A  believer once became so despondent that he abandoned his faith.  It was winter, and He sunk into the depths of despair.  But when spring came, and the trees began to bud, he realized what he was missing.  But how was he to recover the trust in God that he had set aside?  He confessed his loss of faith to his priest.  The priest offered a directive.  “Go back,” he said, “Revisit each thing that led you to despair.  And then thank God for every struggle, every disappointment, and every letdown.  Consider them to be the ‘chastening of the Lord to correct you. Let these times of discipline assure you of your Father’s love (Hebrews 12:7-11).   There in your gratitude to God for your trials, you will find the faith that you threw aside.”

 

About Fr. Basil

Now retired, the Very Rev. Archpriest Basil Ross Aden has served as a parish priest, parish pastor, diocesan mission director, writer, and college teacher of New Testament and Religious Studies. He has a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago and has published daily devotional and stewardship materials as well as a college textbook on Religious Studies. He also has published papers and/or lectured on the Orthodox perspective on Luther and the Reformation. religious freedom, current issues of religion and society, and St. John Chrysostom. He is married to Sandra and has two sons and three grandchildren. He is still active as a priest as well as a writer of articles and materials on Orthodoxy and topics of faith and life today.

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