“Wherefore, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin, which does so easily beset us. . .”

Hebrews 12:1b

Life’s too short and the Race is too long to be carrying excess baggage.

Everyone loves cheering crowds.  There’s something exhilarating about others’ applause, adoration and adulation that makes us feel special and spurs us on to greater things.  But, there are some times when the Race leads us through lonesome valleys and barren wildernesses.  And, it’s in those times when we must stay focused and faithful; otherwise, we’ll be tempted to quit, even though the Finish Line is not much further down the road.

It’s also important that we run the Race unencumbered—for no one in their right mind tries to run with ankle weights on or carrying a backpack full of rocks.

No, when Race Day comes, it’s time to “lay aside” anything that’s going to hinder you; otherwise you’ll soon find your progress slow-going and drudgery, not delight, filling your heart.

The Greek word “ogkos” is used here for “weight” and also means “a bending or bulging mass, burden, hindrance, etc.”  So, again, try to picture an athlete “striving for the prize” with 100 lbs of cast-iron weights strapped to his back.  Ridiculous!

Yet, so many Pilgrims try to “run with patience the Race that is set before them” (Heb. 12:1c) burdened down by numerous worries and cares.  They know Jesus has said “Casting all your cares upon Me, for I care for you” (I Pet. 5:7); yet, they cling to their “weights” (worries) even as a frightened child would cling to his mother.

Likewise, we are instructed to “lay aside EVERY SIN that so easily besets (Grk. ‘euperistatos’—‘thwarting in every direction, that which trips up, etc.’) us.”  We know that sins of commission and omission affect our walk with the Lord; therefore, we should daily continue to be rid of them through confession and repentance lest our “Joy in the Journey” is replaced by fear and regret.

In those times when we’re tempted to quit. . .throw in the towel. . .and wave the white flag of surrender. . .we should continually “look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher/Perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).  Likewise, we should also gain strength and inspiration from the examples of “so great a cloud of faithful witnesses (examples) in God’s Word who ‘fought a good fight, finished their course, kept the faith and received the crown of righteousness’ that was laid up for them by King Jesus” (II Tim. 4:7-8).  Hallelujah!!

So, how goes it, Pilgrim?

How’s your Race-running going?  Is it “full-steam ahead” or are you being tempted to abandon ship?  Are you “mounting up with wings as eagles, running and not growing weary, walking and not fainting” (Is. 40:31) or have you “grown weary in well-doing and faint in your mind” (Gal. 6:9)?  Have you forgotten to “lay aside those encumbrances that weigh you down and so easily trip you up” because you’ve neglected to “come to Jesus and find rest” (Mt. 11:28-30)?  If so, there’s no better time than today to release them to Jesus.  Do it now.