This past Lord’s Day I preached on Hebrews 12:1-3 (Sermon: Exhortations for the Christian Pilgrimage) and the study for this passage was to say the least convicting. I think we often read this passage, I have, and do not stop to contemplate what “lay aside every weight” really means. What I think you will find if you take time to stop and pray about it is that these four words are asking believers to make radical decisions about how we go about our Christian pilgrimage.
Since verse one separates “every weight” and “sin” we need to as well and to look at both areas. Most will easily agree that we need to put aside sin in our Christian walk, or in this case run. But what are we to do with this idea of excess “weight?” Well the idea, in taking from the analogy of being in a race, is to put aside or take off what ever will hinder one from the goal of finishing the race they are in. I would even say that it is not just about finishing but finishing in such a manner that we most glorify God by our manner of running.
With this in mind what does it mean for a believer to “lay aside every weight” or some translations may say “hindrance.” This is not simply about listing specific sins to stop because we have seen the author has set sin as a separate area. When it comes to hindrances the issue becomes more convicting because there are many things that are not in and of themselves a sin but that get in the way of our Christian walk.
How often when deciding on what we are to do we contemplate how a particular action will affect our walk? Many times we do things that not only may lead us to sin but we also do things that simply take time away from what we should be doing. In a race one puts aside everything that will hinder their run and in our Christian walk we should do the same. Again it is not just about running but running in a God glorifying manner.
One area that I struggle with and I am sure many others do is in the area of entertainment. I quite often am good at justifying that I just need to relax but what I find is that a short time of relaxation leads to more time relaxing at the expense of time with God. Our preoccupation with entertainment seems to be more about escapism than relaxation and renewal. Should we not get to a point where time with God is the renewal and relaxation we require. So, while some entertainment may not specifically be a sin if it is interfering with our time with God and doing what God desires of us we need to put it aside.
There are many things that on the surface may seem good but can end up being detrimental to our walk. When areas such as these show themselves we need to make adjustments and lay aside what needs to be laid aside.
I guess my call is for us to better look at what we do. Not in light of what everyone else does but in light of how it affects our walk in the eyes of God. In doing this we need to ask if what we are doing takes from God’s glory and if it detracts from our progress towards holiness. This may, or I should say will, lead to making decisions that will result in us looking different from the world around us. But being a Christian is to be a pilgrim and pilgrims do not look like those around them.
So re-read Hebrews 12:1-3 in the context of all that is around it and then stop to meditate and pray about the things you do and ask if there are things that need to be laid aside. Are we not only running the course that God has set before us but are we running it in a manner that God gets all the glory.