let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Hebrews 12:1
Think On It…
We have a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, but even closer, we have weight and ensnaring sins surrounding us. The word picture here is of running a race, a marathon, an arduous competition probably much like in those ancient Olympics. This race takes discipline, determination, and training as well as the encouragement and support of the “great cloud of witnesses” but also it takes unrestraint.
The runner MUST be free of anything that will hold down or hold back. Back then, some even ran naked and today they wear the skimpiest clothing and even shave body hair. They do what it takes to free themselves from any hindrances so that they can help their speed and endurance. Their race is trivial and insignificant compared to the “race” of the Christian life; so how much more should we lay aside any encumbrances?
Make It Happen…
What are the weights in our lives that weigh us down? These may not be bad things but good things that hold us down and hold us back in the race.
Working– Activity, achievement, programs, and planning are all good things but they can also distract us from God’s work in us and through us in this race. Our work can be just that, OUR WORK not God’s work. If we are so busy doing, then we can miss out on being.
God is making us into His likeness.
This means that whatever work we are doing should have Christ likeness as its function. We are growing in love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. Work is not the goal but the goal shouuld be becoming like Jesus. Therefore, our activities should draw us to God and display God’s glory, not distract us.
Watching– There are many avenues of watching and enjoying in this world that are good but these may also impede us in the race. We watch TV, movies, sports, art, and other entertainments. Sometimes these use up our time, influence us toward sinful thinking, or distract us from what is best.
Wallowing– Experiencing pain or pleasure is natural and necessary in life. When we lose a friend or loved one, we must grieve. When we are hurt by gossip, slander, or betrayal, we must process this pain. When we are blessed with the good things in life, we must enjoy and appreciate them. But these moments of interaction with the experiences of life can turn into distraction and opposition in the race.
Relationships can swallow us up. Our response to people can be a huge weight. From infatuation to infuriation, bonding to bitterness, and codependency to conniption, people can exhaust us and deplete our devotion so that we stop running the race. The affect people have on us must be evaluated. Are we wallowing in relationships to the point of standstill?
How do we lay aside this weights?
Consider whether your activities, enjoyments, pains, pleasures, and people keep you from hearing God, loving others, and growing in Christ likeness? Is so, it’s time to move from these by the disciplines of meditation on God’s word, prayer, and waiting.
Meditation on God’s word means that we study it, memorize it, and consider how it applies to our situations. It is listening to God’s voice and sifting out the other competing voices. Prayer is talking to God and realizing that He is always with you. Prayer is looking at life together with God by expressing your questions, hurts, requests, and responses honestly and openly. Waiting is that space between the promise and fulfillment. God works on us most in periods of waiting. Waiting is silence when we want to speak, resting when we want to react, and trusting when we want to take over.
Sin that so easily ensnares
Then there are the bad things that hold us down and hold us back… temptations, addictions, and habits that are just wrong. These things are so close to us, wrapped around us, and intertwined in us that it is difficult to be released from them. We could list the many sins that are close to our hearts and perhaps there are some that we are oblivious to but the truth is that EVERYONE has ensnaring sins.
Again, the way to get free of these is meditation on God’s word, prayer, and waiting. This is a heart issue and not something that we can beat on our own strength and devices. We must draw near to God and allow Him to set us free of these intimate shackles.