“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 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 has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
This now is an exhortation to us and a reminder that we are in good company. This is a reminder to remember our human forefathers who have gone before us. In chapter 11 the writer gives us many examples of great men and women of faith. There are so many examples that he even says, “And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell…”. He could have gone on for days and told many stories of different people of the faith. This, then, should be encouraging to us.
In our mind’s eye, the author of Hebrews is getting us to picture these saints cheering us on. Not that they can actually look down from heaven at us, but that their stories encourage and applaud us to keep moving forward. As if to say, “we did it through the Lord’s power and you can too.”
The writer goes on and uses an athletic competition and compares our walk with Christ as a running event. It is a running event that involves training, effort and commitment. It is not a sprint because we must demonstrate endurance. We have to be in it for the long haul. As the runner envisions breaking the tape at the end of the race, we too must envision entering into heaven. We must envision finishing well.
We are to lay aside “every weight”. Sin in our lives can obviously hold us back but the writer tells us “every weight”. Athletes would wear training weights to help them prepare but would take them off for the actual event. They were viewed as good things but good things that would hinder during the actual race. His point is that there can be things in our lives that may not be sin yet still hinder us from running well. This would be anything that weighs us down and impedes our progress.
As a Christ follower, think about the race you are in. It is the same race as all of those wonderful saints in the Bible that have gone before us. You may not physically see the finish line in view, neither do long distance runners. But, they envision it and see it in their minds eye. Are you keeping the finish line in view desiring to finish well? What “weights” in your life do you need to lay aside? Is the weight too much time watching television or on social media? Those can be good yet hinder your progress if you are spending more time with those than spending time reading God’s Word and praying. Lay them aside today and see how far you can go with Jesus!
“When the soul is employed in holy exercises, and heart-work is made of them, through the grace of God, the strength of our spiritual enemies will be trodden down, and will fall before us.” – Matthew Henry