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. 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. (Eph 6:13-17, NIV)
Calcei not Caliga. A Roman civilian shoe (Caliga) and slippers were made of softened leather. By contrast, soldiers wore a hybrid shoe (Calcei) that resembled a combination boot+sandal. There were abundant straps for fit adjustments. The sole of the “boot” was made of layered leather for holding metal shards or hobnails. These battle cleats were an offensive and defensive weapon.
Gospel of Peace. Roman soldiers were always prepared for combat because their shoes provided traction in any terrain. In battle, a soldier and his comrades could dig-in to hold their ground individually or arm-in-arm as a group. The specialized shoes that complemented this disciplined approach to battle gave Roman soldiers offensive advantages and defensive protection. Roman legions were able to confidently stand their ground, defensively, or press forward as a unit, offensively. Hobnail cleats, also, gave soldier a deadly advantage in close, hand-to-hand fighting.
Symbolically, there is a dual meaning to the Shoes of Peace in Paul’s armament. The Shoes of Peace testify to the defensive tactic of believers to stand their ground in spiritual combat. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (Jn 14:27, NIV) Besides defense, the Shoes of Peace also suggest the offensive tactic of believers to advance the Gospel of salvation. Paul’s “Shoes” capture Isaiah’s image, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” (Is 52:7, NIV)
God’s peace is a trademark that He places on His believer. Peace is a “Fruit of the Spirit”. To the Galatians, Paul wrote,“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal 5:22, NIV) A spiritual soldier has peace, within and without, even in the midst of heated combat. He is “at peace” and he brings comfort and confident assurance to those around him. “He (Jesus) came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” (Eph 2:17)
Conversely, the enemy does everything possible to unsettle our peace. Like Mayhem, the spokesperson for Allstate Insurance television advertising, Satan excels at stirring disagreement, turmoil and dissention. He agitates our hearts and troubles our relationships. He specializes in bitterness, resentment, poor self-esteem, low-lying anger, suspicion and greed. He festers grudges. If disharmony can be stoked by misunderstanding, he is there. It is fair to say that, if disharmony can be created within an individual or a group of individuals, Satan is a work!
The Greek word for peace (eirene) used in the New Testament has similar meaning to the Old Testament word, shalom. Shalom, like eirene, is peace despite circumstances. For the Jew, shalom-peace is about harmony, health, tranquility and safety in the midst of chaos. Chaos exists. However, the believer’s peace is a deep current that runs beneath the commotion, confusion and instability of daily living. God’s warriors walk in the shoes of shalom.
Practice disciplined peace. Set an alarm as a reminder to pray for peace each morning. Pray for individuals and circumstances that “push my button” and destroy my peace. Give myself a time-out when agitation starts. Identify edgy, snippy or just plain unkind moments and recognize the enemy at-work. Slip-on the shoes of shalom.