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Run the Race: Cast Off Your Weights

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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
 

This week we consider a second aspect of what it means to follow hard after Jesus. First, we looked at the importance of godly examples to help motivate us in our race. Second, we see that in order to run well we must cast off our weights. Lighter means faster. If a runner wants to perform his or her very best, they will make sure they are not hampered down by a cumbersome load. In this context, the word "weight" could refer to extra layers of clothes that slow us down or get in the way. Flowery robes aren't the attire for running. The analogy to the spiritual is explained in the next clause: "and sin which clings so closely." Trying to run the Christian race with sin clinging to us is like trying to run a marathon in a ballroom gown (which would "easily entangle us" or trip us up) while carrying a backpack filled with bricks.

Sin is a weight that ties us down and prevents us from serving Jesus to the best of our ability. Remember Levi the tax collector? His job was a sin that prevented him from following after the Savior, but when he was called by Christ we read that he "left everything" (Luke 5:28). We need to have that same sort of determination.

We cannot afford to be hindered in a race that has such important consequences, so we must cast sin off from us. In your life, what sins might be impeding your progress? There can be some very "sticky" sins--the kind that Hebrews says cling so closely. Part of the reason some sins are so stubborn is because we don't recognize them as being sins at all. Or, at least, we don't recognize them as being very serious sins. Thus we excuse certain behaviors: grumpiness, discontent, gossip, envy, judgmentalism, swearing. Yet these seemingly "less serious" sins are the ones that will easily trip us up. They are the ones that weigh us down and prevent us from reaching the heights that sanctification offers us. So, just as hot air balloon will toss overboard the ballast to soar higher, we must toss overboard any and all sin in order to attain "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13). What a foolish thing to take sin lightly, when it's the heaviest thing there is.

Jonathan Cruse