William Gurnall: Set the house of God in order

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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. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13

“Paul was now in bonds, yet not so close kept as to be denied pen and paper; God, it seems, gave him some favour in the sight of his enemies: Paul was Nero’s prisoner, but Nero was much more God’s. And while God had work for Paul, he found him friends both in court and prison. Let persecutors send saints to prison, God can provide a keeper for their turn.

But how does this great apostle spend his time in prison? Not in publishing invectives against those, though the worst of men, who had laid him in; a piece of zeal which the holy sufferers of those times were little acquainted with: nor in politic counsels, how he might wind himself out of his trouble, by sordid flattery of, or sinful compliance with, the great ones of the times.

Some would have used any picklock to have opened a passage to their liberty and not scrupled, so escape they might, whether they got out at the door or window. But this holy man was not so fond of liberty or life, as to purchase them at the least hazard to the gospel. He knew too much of another world, to bid so high for the enjoying of this; and therefore he is regardless what his enemies can do with him, well knowing he should go to heaven whether they would or no.

No, the great care which lay upon him, was for the churches of Christ; as a faithful steward he labors to set the house of God in order before his departure. We read of no dispatches sent to court to procure his liberty; but many to the churches, to help them to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free.

There is no such way to be even with the devil and his instruments, for all their spite against us, as by doing what good we can wherever we be come.”

William Gurnall in “The Christian in Complete Armour: A Treatise of the Saints’ War against the Devil” (Lavenham, Suffolk) 2-3.

This reading really inspired me. As I work globally to help “set the house of God in order” I must remain fearless and focused while also preparing for the spiritual battle waging around me by putting on the whole armor of God. I must also urge all those around me to do the same thing. We are under attack for the path we have chosen.

Seriously, the evil one is trying various tactics to sow depression, defeat, and discouragement within me, my wife, and the members of the Global Trust Partners network around the world. So we must put on the whole armor of God, call for prayer from others, and follow the instructions set forth in Ephesians 6:14-20.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

What does this have to do with generosity?

We can often think that spiritual problems can be solved with financial solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps the most generous thing we can do in our service to God is to remain fearless and focused as faithful stewards and put on the full armor of God. And we must pray for fellow believers and remind them to put on their armor too.

God please deliver us from the war that rages around us.