Wednesday, 04 May 2011 10:56

Dirty Armor = Clean Kids

Written by  Rev. Anderson T. Graves, II
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In 1 Samuel chapter 17, King Saul and the entire Israelite army are all dressed up in their battle armor, but nobody wants to go down into the valley and get down and dirty against the giant Goliath. For 40 days and 40 nights they all stand around in shiny armor.


David, who’s still a kid, volunteers to fight Goliath, and King Saul, the leader of the armies of Israel, brushes him off.

“You’re just a kid,” he says in verse 33, but David persists, and Saul reluctantly agrees to let him have a shot at Goliath. He even goes so far as to offer David his own royal armor and sword.

David rejected the King’s armor.

David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off. (1 Samuel 17: 39)

Now there was nothing wrong with Saul’s armor. It was after all the king’s armor. Surely it was forged and formed by the most skilled blacksmiths in the land. The problem was that the armor hadn’t been tried or tested under actual battlefield conditions.

The armor was too shiny.

As Jack and Sam Rainer said in Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts, “Armor is not meant to be shiny. Armor is meant to be used in battle. This armor should have dings, scratches, scuffs, and dents in it.”

God issues spiritual armor to every believer. Ephesians 6:10-18 lists the pieces of our spiritual armor: the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness; the boots of the preparation of the gospel; the shield of faith; the helmet of salvation; the sword of truth, which is the Word of God; and prayer-- which passes over, before, and beyond our personal reach, like artillery in support of a ground army.

There’s nothing wrong with this armor. It was after all formed and forged by the King of Heaven. Yet, young people are rejecting the chance to wear it. They are going AWOL from the church, the army of God.


Because we are offering them shiny/untested armor. When children in our churches don’t see adults in our churches evangelizing their communities, they probably won’t evangelize their schools. When our kids don’t see us studying the Bible, they won’t listen to us tell them to study the Bible. When children don’t hear parents pray at home (except for 5 seconds before a meal), they won’t pray. When adults don’t minister beyond church walls, neither will the kids—even when their Sunday school lessons tell them to do so.

If we want our kids to put on the whole armor of God, then we are going to have to get that armor dirty. We adults need to put the Truth to work in the world. We need to live righteously. We must walk out into the world and share the gospel. We must walk by faith, explain the reality of our salvation, study and speak the Word of God. We have to pray.

And, we have to let our kids see us do all of this. They need to see us being real and transparent about our faith and our failings. Kids need to see the dings, scratches, and dents in our spiritual armor. They need to know that our armor has been battle-tested. Only when kids see from our lives that the armor of God really works in the real world will they be willing to put it on for themselves.

David rejected Saul’s armor because it was shiny/untested. But in the very next chapter, David accepted armor from Jonathan, Saul’s son (1 Samuel chapter 18: 4). The difference was that Jonathan had gotten his armor dirty crawling on his hands and knees to attack a Philistine stronghold (1 Samuel 14: 6-14). Dirty armor has credibility. Credibility has appeal.

If we want to keep our kids clean from the world, we have to dress them in the protective spiritual armor of God. But the only way they’re going to put on the armor we offer is if we are willing to get our armor dirty.

Want clean kids?

Get your armor dirty.

Rev. Anderson T. Graves II is the pastor of Hall Memorial CME Church in Montgomery, the Church where Faith Works. Learn about them at He may be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or

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