Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1
God’s desire is for you and me to be as free as possible from ANYTHING that weighs us down from living the Christian life that best serves others and glorifies him. This scripture reminds us that we are to ‘strip off’ anything that might get in our way or ‘tangle us up.’
Any competitor in an endurance event or race will tell you that it’s important to be as light as possible for the event. A marathon runner would not wear a sweatshirt. A bicyclist would want to ride the lightest bike possible. A mountain climber scaling a high cliff, that might take several days, would not want to be carrying any gear that was not absolutely essential.
In the same token, Paul encourages us to strip away anything that might prevent us from an abundant life (John 10:10) – including and especially our sin. But it could be other things or habits – an addiction, emotional eating, wrong thinking habits, lies of Satan, false guilt or shame, worry, bitterness, insecurity. These and other ‘weight’ can affect our testimony, hinder our spiritual growth and can also adversely impact on our relationship with God, ourself and others.
In verse two, Paul tells us how we do this:
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:2
God does not want us trying to do this ‘stripping off’ in our own strength or by ourselves. He wants us to keep our eyes on His Son and to live by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. This is how we run and finish the race of life well. This is how we rid ourselves of the sin that so easily entangles us.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus and we live by the Holy Spirit’s power, we won’t grow weary or become discouraged. We will persevere.
We become, with Jesus, more than we can be on our own!
And this is not for our own sake. Later in this 12th chapter Paul encourages us to ‘strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees‘ (vs 12) so that ‘the lame may not be disabled but healed.’ (vs 13) The healthier we are in mind, body and spirit, the better able we will be to make a difference in the lives of others. The greater our witness will be. The more whole we are, the more opportunity we have to live a life that is attractive to others. We’ll be more likely to give of our time and talents to others who need it. To others who are spiritually sick. To others who desperately need to be touched by the love and grace and mercy of a powerful and personal God.
You see, God wants to use you. In as powerful a way as possible. And, He knows that if you’re carrying around extra ‘junk’ or ‘stuff’ that it will hinder you from being as useful as possible in your service to others and to Him.
So, if you’re serious about your relationship with God, and want to be used by Him in an even greater way, I encourage you to get on your knees, open your heart and humbly ask Him, “God, what ‘weight’ do you want to strip from me?”
If your deep desire is to be as ‘light’ as possible, God will not only show you where the extra ‘weight’ is, His Son will strip it from you!
Have a blessed day, in Christ!
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