By Donna Hughey

Dedicated athletes spend months and sometimes years preparing for competitions. Diet, exercise, and getting a good night’s sleep are some of the things rigorously followed while in training. By focusing on strength, endurance, and self-discipline, an athlete has a better chance of coming out on top over his competitors.

But preparation isn’t just for athletes. Preparation benefits everyone. Whether it’s a job interview, the birth of a child, or anything else, being prepared helps individuals determine what lies ahead and how to handle a variety of different situations.

And it’s no different for believers; being prepared helps us to stand firm in our faith when life attacks. Not just from outside forces — which are sure to come — but from inner forces as well.

Listen to what Scripture says about what we’re up against, how to be prepared, and how to utilize the tools God has provided us with:

“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life…” (Ephesians 6:13-18 MSG)

In other words, the apostle Paul tells his readers that life is hard and preparation is key. And to prepare for those hard moments that we’ll all face at one time or another, believers need to know how truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation all work together to offer solid protection for those who follow Christ.

So let’s begin with truth: Since the world blurs the lines between right and wrong, knowing God’s truth prepares us to clearly see those blurred lines. And seeing clearly removes disorder and confusion so we can respond to the world according to how God expects us to respond (James 4:4).

Next is righteousness: All believers possess the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). That means God sees his followers in the same way he sees Christ, as blameless and sinless! Knowing this “truth” helps prepare us to dismiss and reject self-doubt, the inner voice that might say, “You’re not good enough” or “Your sin is too great for forgiveness.”

Next is peace: God sees his followers as clean and righteous and this truth should bring peace and tranquility to all believers. And having peace prepares us to boldly share the gospel with love, gentleness, and respect (1 Peter 3:15).

Next is faith: By keeping our faith strong and sure, believers are prepared to withstand the unexpected bumps, sorrows, and personal assaults that are common to life. But on the other hand, our faith also prepares us to rejoice and celebrate God’s victories, goodness, and triumphs (Psalm 145).

Finally, we come to salvation: Having salvation prepares us to live a life absent of fear, condemnation, guilt, or burdens. The death of Christ brought with it a freedom that severed the chains of bondage and instead reconciles our relationship between us and God (2 Corinthians 3:17; Galatians 5:1).

So as we can see, truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation all play an important role in the life of a believer. They are the tools that prepare us for living a life that honors and glorifies God. And although each one of us will surely face challenges and trials, being prepared will help us to remain strong and firm throughout our lifetimes.

And that’s a goal we should all be striving for.

Donna Hughey is an award-winning Christian author and columnist. She lives in Crescent City.