Everyone I know seems to have a preferred diet plan. Weight watchers is mine, (17 pounds lighter and counting so far! yay!). Then there’s Atkins, 360, Nutisystem, Jenny Craig etc. Hey, if it’s balanced and works for you, go for it! However, what isn’t as often tended to is the matter of our spiritual health, and how we as believers can “put on (spiritual) weight” if we aren’t careful.
To this end, I thought I’d continue a train of thought I started months ago, when the Lord impressed upon me a life application of one of my favorite passages, Hebrews 12:1-3. Although time has gone by, I would like to continue with a short series on this wonderful passage…this time, without such long gaps between postings!
With each new post, I thought we’d focus on a specific phrase within the passage, which I will indicate in bold. So, let’s pick up where we left off:
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-3).
First a little background: The writer of Hebrews is unknown, but many bible scholars believe it was the Apostle Paul. Part of his audience were the Jews, who happened to profess Christ, but still held on to legalistic practices and beliefs of that day. In context, Paul is pleading with them to let go of these practices (abiding by the law, sacrifices, and works for their salvation), and embrace Christ completely as Messiah. Instead, they were trying to live a hybrid faith of Judaism and Christianity. Yet scripture is clear that salvation is only by God’s grace alone through faith alone. (Romans 3:23-28, Ephesians 2:8-9).
Paul uses the correlation between the commitment of an athletic goal and their spiritual perseverance, (or lack thereof), to encourage them to see the error of their ways. To this end, he encourages them to lay aside every encumbrance (or “weight” in the KJV) that holds them back.
Imagine trying to run a good race while tethered to a weight. You can’t run, much less walk. In fact, you have to be as light as possible if you expect to run well.
Beyond legalism, scripture mentions other encumbrances in this life:
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation”. (1 Peter 2:1-2)
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap”. (Luke 21:34)
You don’t have to think too long to come up with many other attitudes and distractions that bog us down from the race we are meant to run.
It could be fear, unbelief, love of the world, whatever. What a strong reminder to cast off all that extra and unnecessary weight!
Have you ever wavered towards an obligation to work your way to God, or can you see how someone could do this?
What weighs on your mind and heart? How has it slowed you down in your race to the finish? Lay it down before Him today.
Excerpts from “The Race Before Us”