“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” — Hebrews 12:1
Without doubt, one of the most consistent preoccupations of the American mind today is this subject of weight – more specifically, too much weight. As a result, about every two weeks a new diet plan is foisted upon gullible Americans, and another fortune is made by some clever soul.
Maybe it’s time we looked into this matter of weight from a different perspective: not the kind of weight that an exotic diet will solve, but the burdensome weights that the Apostle Paul admonishes us to lay aside. He is referring to that excess baggage that affects our Christian walk and witness – weights that make it difficult for us to move along as well and rapidly as we should, delaying, and even preventing, progress. The apostle directs us to lay them aside, and the clear implication in this Scripture is that we can do that by an act of our will: put it away! Whether it is hanging on our backs or sitting in our paths, we must move it out!
Weights appear in many and varied forms, and Satan will use any one or all of them to prevent our being the effective Christian witnesses Jesus wants us to be. He will also use them to keep us from having a happy and peaceful life. Some are so commonplace and deceptive that we hardly recognize them as such; we just thoughtlessly pick them up and carry them.
Let’s examine some of the weights noted in the Scriptures:
Possessions: First, let’s remember the encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler in Luke 18. Having possessions is not a sin, and, in fact, properly handled they are, or can be, a blessing. The problem surfaces when possessions begin to dominate our lives — as was the case of the rich young ruler. How much better for us if we keep our material blessings in perspective and use them in all ways to the glory of God.
The Cares of the World: In Jesus’ parable of the sower, as recorded in Matthew 13. Here is a weight that can get so heavy it will simply override the things of God. We get so wrapped up in jobs, social schedules, sports, and selfish desires that our church attendance and commitments are relegated to a lower position on our priority list. Then there is too much busyness. God expects us to provide for our families. The Apostle Paul told Timothy that he who provides not for his family is worse than an infidel. But he also reminded Timothy that there is a place where we are to be content – not continually striving for more.
To some men (even Christian men) their jobs take precedence over everything, including God and family. The same is true with some women. This is a terrible weight, and it will drag our vital fellowship with God to a complete stop.
Self: Self can also be a weight. We need to consider carefully whom we are serving and whose will we are concerned about. How did Jesus deal with this problem of the importance of “self”? His whole attitude and focus can be summed up in this one statement: “I delight to do the will of my Father,” He said. “I do the will of Him who sent me.”
The Desire to be Seen and Heard: This desire can be a weight. In one of His teachings, Jesus admonishes us to “take the worst seat at the table.” Remember that Jesus washed feet! He also instructed us to do as He did. Remember, it is God’s job to elevate us to the higher positions – not ours.
Timidity: This characteristic can develop into a weight. Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no on is pursuing; [this is actually a picture of timidity] but the righteous are bold as a lion!” and 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Murmuring: This habit is one of the heaviest weights of all. First Corinthians 10:10 needs no clarification: “Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured and were destroyed.” Something about us is always destroyed when we murmur. It may be our fellowship with our Lord; it may be our strength or joy, or even our health. But something is definitely affected in a damaging way. God said so.
Beloved, it is important to remember that God never tells us to do something we cannot do. If He admonishes us to put away from us each of these hindrances to serving Him effectively, then He does so in order to make our lives freer and better. He does not intend to add another burden by insisting we do something that is going to make our lives harder. So let’s believe our Father when He tells us the way to a happier and more effective life. Let us eagerly “… lay aside every weight,” and “… put off the old man …” and let us run the race that is set before us with top efficiency – all the way to victory!
© 2006 Ted Pavloff