Based on Biblical Text Hebrews 12:1
…Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
Certainly many of us could stand to shed a few pounds. It is important to eat the proper foods, get enough exercise and avoid those sweets that cause us to put on excess baggage. It is a scientific fact that a healthy diet is closely related to longevity. We can conclude that physical weight-watching is closely related to good health.
However, I submit there is another kind of weight watching which is far more important than our quest to achieving slim and trim bodies. In fact those of us who profess to be Christians need to adopt a spiritual weight-watching program. Doing that will help us avoid that excess weight which leads to spiritual strokes and spiritual cardiac arrest.
In Hebrews, the writer, who is generally assumed to be the Apostle Paul, seems to be promoting what could be identified as a first century weight watching plan. There is a challenge to the readers to reduce and to take off excess baggage. The writer admonishes us, “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.”
Paul compares the Christian life to a marathon track meet. He probably formed that image watching the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. Sitting in the stands somewhere near the starting gate, he would notice all the specially marked sections reserved for prominent runners who had retired from the track. He probably recognized many of them as they had come to the arena to cheer for their favorite runners.
He, no doubt, noticed that as the runners approached the track, they were wearing helmets, warm-ups and weights around their ankles. However, he saw that before they got to the starting gate, they took off all that excess baggage and stripped down to the bare minimum. They wore only enough clothing to hide their nakedness. When the signal to start was given and the athletes took off, Paul noticed that they were able to run swiftly because they were not hindered by excess weight.
It appears that as Paul was watching, the Holy Spirit spoke to him. He began thinking about the many people who were trying to run the Christian race loaded down with excess weight. He thought about all the champion runners like Enoch, Noah and Abraham who were watching from their vantage point in Heaven’s balcony. He thought about Jesus, the All-time Champion who had run a perfect race and set a perfect example for all would-be runners. And Paul penned these words, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.”
In other words, since you are being watched, since you are being cheered on by so many retired runners. You have the testimony of the Saints who ran before that in order to run a good race you have to reduce the weight that will hinder you, for God’s sake and for your own sake, take it off. Lay aside every weight and the sin which sets you back so easily.
Notice that Paul makes a distinction between weights and sins. If they were the same, he would not have had to say weights and sins. I submit that all sins are weights, but not all weights are necessarily sins. Every sin we commit is a weight that hinders our progress as we try to run this Christian race. But there are some other things that will keep us from running a good race, and they are not labeled as sins. We are aware of what the most common sins are and we know that any transgression against God’s law is sin. However, in addition to sin, there are some heavy weights that prevent us from running a successful race.
For example, as runners neared the starting point you noticed one had on a steel helmet, a pair of combat boots, some thick socks, some long underwear, a wool suit, a flannel shirt and a heavy overcoat. Well, as far as I know, there is nothing in the Track Rule Book which says that a runner can’t wear a helmet, a heavy overcoat and combat boots. In other words, there’s nothing sinful about running track with a heavy load. But the chances of winning a race with all that baggage is somewhere between slim and none.
Paul moves us to compare the excess baggage the bogged down runner is carrying to some of the weights that many so-called Christians carry around everyday. Many people are on the track of life, trying to run the Christian race hindered with so much excess weight that it is difficult to stay focused on their own running lane. They can’t concentrate on the race because they’re too busy worrying about the other runners. They can’t get ahead themselves because they spend all of their time straining to see where everyone else is heading. Take off the weight!
Picture yourself, at the starting gate, getting ready to run the Christian Marathon. The gun in about to go off signaling the start of the race. You look up in the grandstands and see the retired champions who have run the race before you. They are cheering as you take your place on the track. You can hear them saying, “Keep the weight down; if you want to make it, hang in there to the end. Don’t give up.” You look around and see all your loved ones, cheering with the Saints of Old; Moses and Jeremiah, Isaiah and David, Enoch and Noah. They are all assembled to cheer you on to victory.
But, before you start the race, take off the excess weight; this is a long marathon; it is a tedious journey and there is no room for unnecessary weight. Take off the helmet of hatred, and hat of malice. Take off the cap of prejudice and the bonnet of bigotry. Take off the scarf of deceitfulness and the bandanna of selfish pride. Take off the coat of envy and the sweater of jealousy. And while you’re running, look way down the road and you’ll see Jesus, the all-time champion. He started this race and He has already finished this race. He started running one Friday morning at Pilate’s Hall and He didn’t stop until He got to a hill called Calvary. It was there that He died, and with His death, He defeated all of His enemies and conquered all of His foes. But then, when Sunday morning came, it was time to celebrate. He got up. He said, “0 Death, where is thy sting…O Grave, where is thy victory…All Power in Heaven and in earth is given unto ME.”
Lay aside every weight and sin that so easily holds us back, and let us run with patience…Looking to Jesus…the Author and Finisher of our faith!
As we approach the Sabbath
Sunday, May 5, 2013, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter
Join our Worship Experience at 10:00 am.
Church School begins at 8:45 am.
Scripture Lesson for this Sunday
Acts 8:4-8; Acts 8:14-17
1 Peter 3:8-18
There is a Word from the Lord!
Sermon Text Romans 8:18-19
Sermon Title Coming Into God’s Magnificent Plan