"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."
In 1999 I was asked to attend a fund-raising race to help battle cancer. I was told that some of the participants would be racing, but others would be walking. I was happy to attend and lend support to a church member who helped organize the run. I twisted a few fellow staff members' arms, and we ended up with several of us in attendance to walk the 5K.
Shortly before the race/walk began, I was asked to go to the front of the mass of humanity for an opening prayer. My friends and I journeyed to the head of the line, and we were a part of the introductions. My plan and expectation was to then slip quickly to the back of the crowd. We were told to do so because the people at the front were in the official race. The ones there to walk the trek were to be well behind the serious competitors.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the gun sounded much faster than we anticipated. The race was on! Hundreds of serious runners immediately took off as though shot from a canon. My group and I had two choices: start sprinting, or get stampeded. We took off...for our lives! Adrenaline carried us for a minute or so, but soon thereafter, our bodies betrayed us. It was not long until you could tell we were not runners, and we looked for a strategic route to the side of the pack where we could stop and catch our breath.
Here is the obvious lesson: If you are going to run a race, you better be prepared!
Hebrews 12:1 states, "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."
If we are going to run the race of the Christian life well and finish strong, we must be prepared. Hebrews 12:1 gives us two categories of things to discard. First, we need to lay aside every weight. The weight is anything that impedes your ability to run well. If you are running a marathon, you do not show up wearing a backpack. You dare not wear jeans. Why not? Not so much because it is illegal, but simply because it will hinder you from running well.
You might think of this first category as things that, while not necessarily sinful, tend to hinder your ability to run the Christian race well. Maybe it is social media. Perhaps, Sportscenter. It could be Netflix or video games. No one is suggesting there is anything wrong with leisure activities. Still, anything in your life that distracts you from living for Christ or dulls your sensitivities to the Holy Spirit's leadership needs to be laid aside.
A second category is simply called "sin." Did you notice the description of sin? The biblical writer says it "clings so closely." If we are going to run the race well, we must eliminate the sin that we tend to tolerate and excuse in our lives. For some, it may be sins that are so big they are continually piercing our conscience. More likely, our struggle is against sins that seem so commonplace they no longer seem to bother us. Gossip, greed, jealousy, bitterness, anger...these kinds of things are around us so much we may not even realize how much they cling to us.
Many people take off running fast at first and seem to be doing just fine (just like my group in the race). However, given a little time, those who hold on to unnecessary weight and tolerate sin find themselves getting trampled.
Use this moment to evaluate your own heart and commit to laying aside every weight and sin that threatens to distract, discredit, or devour you. Let us run for God's glory, and may we finish the race!
"Anchored in Hope" is a book Michael has written that contains forty daily devotionals. Whether you are a new Christian or a seasoned believer, these daily readings will strengthen your faith as they point you to Christ. To order your copy, click here. To request prayer, please click here.