When I was a young man in college and at the peak of my athletic prowess and physical vitality it was my longing to be able to dunk a basketball. I had a couple of things working against me; my hands were not big enough to sufficiently “palm” the ball so that I would only need to get “wrist high” on the rim AND my gluts (rear end muscles) from which leaping ability most readily comes, were relatively nonexistent.
Undeterred in my quest, I secured a weigh vest to wear while I was working out. This was a strap on vest with four pockets filled with sand equaling about 30 pounds. It was quite an expense for me as a college kid. But, I bit the bullet, bought it, and I began to wear it as I went through my paces. But when I tried to play basketball in it I found that it was an impossible encumbrance to playing. Not only could I not move sufficiently but when I tried to raise my arms to shoot it restricted me to the end that it was futile. So, what I had to do was to lay aside the weight vest and realize that I was never going to be able to dunk the ball.
I’m always reminded of that when I read Hebrews. 12:1 “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.”
Really, this verse urges us to lay aside two categories of hindrances to “running our race”; “every weight AND sin”. First we cannot win the race (successful Christian life) if we are being encumbered with sin. I think we all get that. Unrepentant, unconfessed, and unaddressed sin in our life will degrade our ability to run the race. We understand this intuitively. But it is the second category (listed first in the verse) that can also radically slow us down. It is an all encompassing category simply designated as “every weight”. These weights might not be sinful. They may be completely innocuous in and of themselves. It may be a hobby, a non-sinful enjoyment of life, money (in itself not sinful), a job, etc. There are many things in our lives that while not being sinful, can become encumbering weights to us that do not allow us to run well. If we have these otherwise innocuous things in our lives that are nonetheless hindering us from running the race in full vigor, Hebrews would encourage us to lay them aside, no matter how good a thing they might be. Even as I had to lay aside the weight vest, so I still have to set aside anything that would hinder me from running the race God has given me to run.
Beloved Christian run well. Do not let either unaddressed sin or these innocuous “weights” slow us down as we run for God’s glory this race of life so that at the end we may receive a crown of glory from the one who will say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
A great old gospel song; “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”, says:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
We are not often weighted down with a weight vest we can easily slip off when it becomes too cumbersome as we attempt to negotiate this life. But we are often” heavy-laden” with loads of care nonetheless. It is a load not meant for us to bear. Jesus is our refuge. He is the one who bears all weight of sin and then enables us to lay aside every other encumbrance and rest in him when cares come.
In the love of an imperfect bother still running,