The author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us” (Heb. 12:1 HCSB). Hebrews 12 begins with the word “Therefore.” When you see the word therefore in the Bible you ask what’s it there for? The “therefore” of Hebrews 12:1 is a reference back to Hebrews 11, the great hall of fame of faith. The champions of Hebrews 11 have run the race victoriously and now encourage us to become spiritual champions, too. The men and women of faith listed in Hebrews 11 were not perfect people. Look at the list. Noah was a drunk. Abraham, a liar. Samson, a person of passion. Rahab, a prostitute. Moses had a temper problem. Gideon was distraught with fear. David, an adulterer and murderer. Not only were these people not perfect, they weren’t even close to perfect. But they progressed toward the finish line of Christ-likeness.
These champions of yesterday testify to us today. Noah is telling every drunk you can stop. Abraham reminds every liar that you can tell the truth. Samson acknowledges that God’s power can enable you to win over your passion. Rahab informs you that you can break the chains of promiscuity. Moses jogs your memory that with God’s help you can control anger. Gideon testifies that you can face your fears. And, David beckons that you can overcome the worst things a human being can do.
In your race, what would be presently keeping you from being the disciple you would like to be?
Is your weight addiction? What do you think you can’t get along without? We may condemn or pity the alcoholic and the drug abuser, but the truth is that we all tend to form addictions of some sort. How jealously do we guard certain little habits? Our paper in the morning. Coffee on the way to work. Uninterrupted time watching our favorite television show. Addictions, large and small, gross or petty, can be overcome. Call out of the stadium Moses who struggled with drunkenness. He will tell you that our little “dependencies” are actually crutches; how can we run a race hobbling along on them? Addictions weigh us down. God says lose the extra weight.
Is your weight lying? Lying seems such an inconsequential sin. Who does it really harm? You and God. There are no little sins to God. God abhors dishonesty. If you are struggling with tongue issues call Abraham down to help. Abraham twice lied to a king by claiming his wife was his sister. He was a deceiver and a liar, but he overcame it. He was a man of faith who had to come to trust in God not only in his walk but also with his talk. Foul mouths are dirty little weights. God says lose the extra weight.
Is your weight passion? Maybe you struggle with issues of your heart. They come in the form of ambitions, prejudices, obsessions, infatuations, and zeal. Passions are not necessarily evil, that is, until they get you off track and cause you to lose focus. Passions misdirected can destroy a life. Just ask Samson. Call him down from the stands. A man blessed with passion. But it ruined him. He will tell you, “Don’t substitute a passion of people and things for God. Passion is an obtrusive weight. God says lose the extra weight.
Is your weight promiscuity? Are you struggling with your sex drive? Have your sexual relations overflowed the God-ordained boundary of marriage? Nothing will weigh a person down heavier and be harder to break than sexual sin. Talk to Rahab, a former prostitute who assisted the children of Israel in their campaign to take the Promise Land, but now residing in the stadium of spiritual champions. Rahab will tell you that the sin of promiscuity can be broken, forgiven, and you can be restored to wholeness and wellness. But first you must let go of this ball and chain that is holding you down. Sex sin is a razor sharp trap that will ensnare and wound you. God says lose the extra weight.
Is your weight anger? Do you have a temper? Can you ignite in a split second when some of life’s inconveniences and frustrations are blown your way? The more we allow sources of offense to preoccupy us the less time and emotional energy we have left over to run the race. Are you weighed down by anger? Call down Moses. He struggled with his temper, but now resides in the heavenly grandstands. He will tell you to forgive quickly and go on with the race. Anger is an encumbering weight. God says lose the extra weight.
Is your weight fear? Fear can be paralyzing. The race for spiritual champions meanders through some unfamiliar terrain and threatening situations and dangerous environments. It’s an adventure. At times we will be anxious. Sometimes we will freeze. At other times we will want to refuse to go any farther. When fear strikes its chord call upon Gideon. Gideon, God’s warrior, will remind you of the time he led his soldiers into battle. Though outnumbered and death seemed imminent, Gideon trusted God and won the battle. Gideon would say that your fear is a weight that will hold you back from running your full potential in the race. Give it up. Give it to God. Trust in his presence. Fear is a needless weight. God says lose the extra weight.
Is your weight your past? Have you committed a horrendous act for which you can’t forgive yourself? Did you do something so awful that the Devil says you are not eligible to run the race? You can never run a race if you are always retracing your steps. What ghosts from yesterday are haunting your todays, distracting you, weighing you down? Call David down for encouragement. David was guilty of an illicit affair and a murderous cover-up. Such heinous crimes would have disqualified most people. Yet God met David in his sin. God forgave him. Restored him. Cleansed him. Remade him. David would say, “Sin is sin, it must be dealt with. But don’t hide it in the closest of your mind. Take to Jesus. He already knows your sin. Confess it so he can forgive you. And in doing so he will put you back in the race to.” Past mistakes and sins are a painful weight. God says lose the extra weight.