There is a responsibility that accompanies the privilege of following Christ. To make the greatest impact, we must throw aside every weight and sin!
“…let us strip off and throw aside
every encumbrance (unnecessary weight)
and the sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings
to and entangles us…”
Hebrews 12: 1
Encumbrance is not a word I normally use in everyday vocabulary. It means “a burden or impediment”. It has the idea of any kind of weight, bulk, or burden being carried.
I know several people who are avid marathon runners. Every one of them keeps track of their diet, has a strict exercise routine, and plans carefully what they will wear or carry during a race. They know that any excess weight will hinder their ability to finish well.
This is exactly the analogy used in Hebrews!
Defining the unnecessary weight in my life isn’t as easy as looking in the mirror! As matter of fact, some of the things I may have to examine closely may seem quite good.
Cloud of Witnesses
Some hints can be gained from looking at the preceding chapter in Hebrews from those who have run this race of faith ahead of us.
“Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…”
Close your eyes for a moment and image being completely surrounded by faith giants cheering you on in your life and walk with Christ.
For me that thought is more intimidating than encouraging!
- Abel threw off Cain’s weight of indifference in creating his own rules of worship or worshipping God “just enough” to be accepted.
- Enoch chose solitude with God above continually hanging out with friends.
- Noah rejected wickedness that had become the cultural norm, choosing righteousness instead.
- Abraham’s encumbrance was everything familiar, including family, religion of his father, and a secure home.
- Sarah’s greatest hold back was getting past her physical limitations.
- Moses had to give up on privilege, position, wealth, and power to break free.
- Joshua broke through natural intellect.
Similarly, the writer of Hebrews calls us to “throw aside” whatever it is that would potentially hold us back from fully and effectively following Christ. Only you will know what God is calling you to leave behind!
And the Sin
“Sin is termed εὐπερίστατος meaning to place oneself round, or encompass.
The sense is therefore: sin, which easily surrounds us and takes us captive.”
In a literal sense, it is like a runner in a loose-fitting garment that could easily get wrapped around his legs to trip him up. Whereas, the sense of encumbrance is general, sin is more specific.
Every one of us has at least one area we keep “tripping over”. The enemy is clever! He knows our weakness even better than we do. Constantly staying accountable to those who will honestly and bluntly speak into my life is one way to help me avoid unnecessary falls. Still, they come!
“so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings”
Pride and independence are perhaps two of my biggest areas; they show up in subtle and not so subtle ways. These may be the two biggies, but they aren’t the only ones I’m constantly throwing off!
The Cross is Enough
“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.”
Hebrews 12: 2
So, what then? We’ve tripped in an all too familiar way again. What do we do when the shame of past or guilt recent failures is pulling us ever downward?
The cross is enough! Jesus paid the price for it all – past, present, and future. He knew how much we were going to fail. Yet, He loves us still. In reality, the only thing He fully expected we would do is fail, only to fall again. The provision of His sacrifice on the cross is complete in every way.
Don’t let shame and guilt hold you back! Place whatever entangles at the foot of the cross and step back into your place. A crowd of others who have tasted the bitterness of failure and defeat is cheering you on to complete your course.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to
salvation without regret,
whereas worldly grief produces death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10
When you run, run without regret in the full freedom of the cross!
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