January 6, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV)
Today we move into the last major section of Ephesians. Having finished the “household code” instructions for wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters, we turn now to another challenging passage. Bibles that supply headings for Ephesians 6:10-20 entitle it with something like “Our Spiritual Battle” or “Spiritual Warfare” or “Be Strong in the Battle.” This passage does indeed reveal the spiritual dimensions of the struggles we face in life and how we can both endure in and prevail over them.
If there’s one main point in Ephesians 6:10-20, one truth we need to understand, one imperative we need to obey, it comes right at the start. You can’t miss it: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (6:10). Be strong “in the Lord” by relying on the One who created all things. Be strong in the Lord who saved you from death into life. Be strong by resting in God, trusting God, being filled by God, being loved by God.
Though verse 10 doesn’t say this explicitly, it might have read, “Be strong in the Lord, and not in yourself.” Yes, God’s strength lives within us through the Holy Spirit. But we are not to live by our own inner strength if we want to stand firm in the struggles we face. Why not? Because our own strength is inadequate. And God’s strength, readily available to us, is more than adequate. As verse 10 notes, God’s power is “mighty.”
Of course the question we want to ask at this point is: How? How can we be strong in the Lord? How do we access his mighty power? We’ll find the answers we need in the rest of our passage. You might want to take a peek at all of Ephesians 6:10-20 if you’re curious about its teaching. At this point, I’ll say only that the answer to the “How?” question is surprising, at least to me. It’s not what I would have expected, so I’m grateful for what is revealed in this passage. I’m sure you will be too.
Something to Think About:
When you read “Be strong in the Lord,” what does this suggest to you?
Do you know people whom you would describe as “strong in the Lord”? What about them suggests that this is an appropriate description?
Have there been times in your life when you have been “strong in the Lord”? When? How do you understand what you were experiencing?
Something to Do:
If you’re facing challenges in your life for which you need strength, ask the Lord to supply what you need. Look for how he responds to your prayer.
Gracious God, thank you for the invitation to be strong in you. Thank you for making your mighty power available to us. Thank you for helping us to stand in the battles of this life. Thank you for empowering us to prevail over that which would threaten us.
As we begin our devotional study of this passage in Ephesians, please teach us how to be strong in you. May our minds and hearts be open to you, your truth, and your power. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online
Mutuality in Working for the Lord (Ephesians 5:21–6:9)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
As one, who has been, throughout the seasons of life, both “strong in the Lord” and also many times; one strong in myself…this post is timely. Currently, I hope I am laboring to enter His Rest, which sometimes seems like transgression or like doing nothing? I face the trials from within and from without; fighting off despair and regrets.
This exhortation is somewhat dis-settling in my current season of bewilderment. In different circumstances I may have a more comforting perspective. Though looking back at seasons when I was being strong in the Lord, I may have been totally unaware that I was doing just that.
This past year I have met with many failures with aspirations where I either missed it altogether, or I dropped the ball and went in my own strength ?
But God: because of Him, I encourage myself that “He has a plan for my life”; may I seek Him with my whole heart. I labor to not be strong in myself, which truly is inadequate, though at times tempting.., I must find His proper balance and focus on being strong in the Lord, in His Might. Trusting “that He will never leave me or forsake me” I hold onto Psalm 91 while trusting that He will make all things right as I surrender to His will.
Ron, thank you for this honest and heartfelt comment. I think most people can relate to the struggle of being strong in the Lord at times yet relying on our own strength at other times. I know I can relate! My plan is to begin each day by surrendering to the Lord. Literally, my daily to do list reads: Surrender your calendar. Yet, some days I take back what I have given to the Lord in the morning. Blessings to you, Ron, in this time of transition.