Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12: 1-3 (NLT)
Here’s the deal—we live in a world where there is pain, heartache, sickness, sorrow, loss, pressure, expectations, hardships, and even death. That’s the setting, the arena, which the writer of Hebrews is remembering when he writes this section of the book of Hebrews showing us how to grow in our faith and trust more in Christ.
That’s our world. But we need to remember— as followers of His—we run the race against all those things which confront us with Him and with His power. A huge difference than without Him. We don’t go it alone. Is it easy? No, but we have His power and His example and all those others cheering us on in that great cloud of witnesses.
And further, the writer says that to be able to do it well, we have to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,” as part of our preparation to run this race and grow in our faith. To get rid of excess weight, “mass” or “bulk,” and to put away any sin that will trip us up.
I remember years ago Lynda and I were visiting our dear friends in Massachusetts (the best man and maid of honor in our wedding, and still dear friends today).
One day we decided to go skiing. Lynda, being born and raised in Florida, needed to bundle up—but not the way she did. She didn’t layer, but instead she put everything she brought with her on—every shirt, undershirt, sweater and jacket. And so, with her arms sticking straight out to the side, unable to bend over due to all the bulk she had just added to her body, not only did she freeze, since she was unable to move to keep warm, but she couldn’t ski.
By the same token, we don’t run usually run track events in winter coats. That will slow us down, and in sports, generally, overdressing restricts our movements. So we need to set them aside. I’m not suggesting it, but Classical Greek runners would run with no clothes on at all, so that no garment could impede them or slow them down.
And to grow in our faith, to strengthen ourselves for all we will face in the world, we need to also set aside things that will slow us down, impede our Godly growth, and keep us from finishing the race well. Maybe we need to set aside an indifferent attitude, or lack of caring, a lack of commitment and discipline, or a poor use of our time, or allowing a tendency to procrastinate to linger.
Maybe we also need to set aside things which won’t grow us more into the person God created us to be—like certain forms of entertainment we watch, or relationships and associations which are not good for us, or habits we need to break. Maybe we need to embrace friends who won’t—and engage things that don’t—cause us to stumble and not grow in our faith.
Fix your eyes on Christ, throwing off all the stuff that hinders, distracts and entangles—to be all we were created to be. Allowing us to be the best He created us to be.
And after we have done that, and with our eyes and lives fixed on Christ—run and never stop.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2017. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.