Hebrews 12:1 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…
This week we have been looking at how the Christian life is often compared to a race. Scripture teaches us that God has uniquely created a special race that He wants each of us to run. Yesterday we saw how that the Christian race includes both the opportunities to faithfully serve, as well as the opportunities to faithfully suffer.
A key principle that I am trying to emphasize is the concept of ‘faithfulness.’ The Bible says – “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Cor 4:2) The Christian life is not a short sprint. It is a long, grueling marathon that requires great faithfulness.
Because faithfulness is such an important issue, the author of Hebrews encourages us to set aside everything that might somehow affect our faithfulness. “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…” What are these weights and various encumbrances?
1) The Encumbrance of Life Itself
Noted author and Bible teacher John MacArthur writes – “Often it is something perfectly innocent and harmless. But it weighs us down, diverts our attention, saps our energy, dampens our enthusiasm for the things of God.”
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said that some seed fell among the thorns were it was eventually ‘choked out’ by the ‘care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches.’ (see Mt 13:7, 22) Anything that takes our attention off of our Savior is an encumbrance to our faithfully running the race.
2) The Encumbrance of the Race Itself
Hebrews 12: 1 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, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Like many of the New Testament letters, the book of Hebrews was written to Christians who are suffering. Some were suffering from persecution. Others were suffering from the pressure of family and friends for them to return to their old Jewish ways. Because they were suffering, some were being tempted to quit. Yet scripture teaches us that we must not quit.
In closing, consider these words from the Apostle Paul-
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
In other words – “I remained faithful to the very end. I did not quit!”