Hebrews 12:1 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us
So a few weeks ago my wife and I had a brief conversation. It went something like this...
Tash: You know, we've not been as focused as we should be with the youth group. It's not right. We're losing them.
Me: I know.
Tash: Something has to change. We need to do something.
Me: I know. I've been thinking about that for a while .
Tash: Things have been crazy with all the doctors and appointments but still we can do better.
Me: I know.
Notice something there? Did you see it? Let me expound if you will.
God was moving in Tash to bring up and point out a lack of devotion to our calling. He had brought it to my attention previously but honestly I thought "I know, no one has said anything yet so I'll try harder. I'll change, as soon as I square things away with work and my back. Then I'll have time." I didn't bring it up even though He brought it up often.
I have no way of knowing how many times He brought it up to Tash before she responded.
In Hebrews 12:1 we are told to lay aside every weight and sin. Laying aside sin makes sense. We know that, so when we read that we go "yeah, get rid of sin". We are missing something there though. Something key.
The verse says every weight AND sin. Meaning the weight is different from the sin. What does that mean? What weight?
Further on, he uses the illustration of a runner. So let's say the runner trained hard, ate healthy, rested appropriately and did everything correctly in preparation for his race. This is the same as an individual that through the Holy Spirit battles his flesh and brings it into submission. He avoids situations where he can be tempted to sin, he studies the word, fellowships with other believers and understands the importance of "be still and know I am God".
So this runner shows up to run his race wearing jeans, combat boots, heavy flannel shirt and a wool trench coat. How well is he going to run? Not very. He did everything right except one thing. He is carrying a lot of weight.
You're probably thinking "okay, what does that have to do with believers?" I'm glad you asked.
The weights in the verse are things that aren't necessarily sinful but can be a hindrance to you. The best example of this I heard in sermon by John MacArthur so no need to reinvent the wheel.
Is it sinful to take your spouse out Saturday night for a wonderful late dinner, take a ride afterwards, end up at the beach and go for a walk on the beach and be out until 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning. Then come home and go to sleep. The answer is no.
Now what if you had to get up Sunday morning and teach the word of God at Sunday school? Is it sinful now? Still no, however it is unnecessary weight. By not getting a good night's rest you are making teaching more difficult than it already can be.
Is watching television a sin? No. However, if you find it hard to find the time to connect with your family but never miss your shows it has become a weight and may be on the verge of becoming sinful.
Is being a diligent worker a sin? Definitely not. But when performing for your employer begins to encompass a large portion of your time, it has definitely become a weight.
This is what happened with me. There were so many peripherals that had moved out of the periphery and into the forefront that I was bogged down. I was trying to run with a backpack full of rocks. These things were important but not all important.
There was the youth group responsibilities, there was the guys I minister to, the Trail Life troop, being given even more responsibility at work, the problems with the deteriorating disks in my back, the children's various special needs and illnesses along with a myriad of other things. All culminating into a lot of unnecessary bulk. Not really sin but a lot of weight. That weight began to distract and take over. All of it was important but I allowed it to crowd in and take a prominent place. When in reality if I kept Christ where He's supposed to be, in front, then He'd have guided me through and shown me how to handle each thing.
Now there are some things I will have to cut out, and others that need realigned but all through the power of Christ.
The sad thing is, it wasn't until my pastor, Kevin, talked with me Sunday. He explained that some people were concerned. It seemed like I wasn't engaged and was disconnected. There were other things that were said but no need to go into full detail now.
After the conversation and then Kevin's sermon. I went to the altar and knelt down. I prayed that Jesus would forgive me for becoming weighted down. For losing my zeal, for moving Him from the center of my life. Then the Holy Spirit prompted me to get up, and publicly confess my failings over the past few months and ask the church to forgive me.
Now for a split second I thought how's that gonna look, one of the ministers admitting to a failure to remain focused and failing to honor God as he should. The response "it will show the power of God's Grace".
So I got up, signaled Kevin, he had Jake stop the music and I poured it out before the church. Through tears, I confessed my failure and asked them to forgive me.
Do you know what happened? Someone else got up and confessed his sins. Then the church gathered around us, laid hands on us and prayed over us and for us. It was awesome.
The love and grace displayed was truly amazing. The Holy Spirit moved and as a church we pulled together to move forward. They forgave just as Christ did. Now it's time to get back to work and live up to the calling that God had placed on us.
So join me in laying aside the weight AND the sin so we can run this race with endurance and excellence. Ditch the coat and the combat boots (weight/distractions). Get on the track and train (study the word/listen to the Spirit). Get a training partner to urge you on and help you stay focused (accountability/fellowship). Keep in mind, following Christ is a marathon not a sprint.
Just one question remains, do you have on your running shoes?