I love preaching on Hebrews 12:1-3:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, and laying aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith . . . .”
The long distance race is an apt metaphor for the Christian life. When you are stealing second base or running the 100 yard dash, speed is important. But when you are running the marathon, speed is not that important. Endurance is.
Three Greek participial clauses modify the main verbal clause “Let us run with endurance the race.” One of these tells us we need to cast off any and every encumbrance that would hinder or impede our Christian progress.
No one can successfully compete in long distance running, or any kind of running, who is hindered by excess clothing or weight.
I remember when I ran cross country for West Rome High School in Rome, GA, in the early 1970’s. The coach would have us train wearing ankle weights—leather weights filled with 2 ½ pounds of sand strapped around our ankles. Training was grueling. Many times I wanted to quit. But the moment I discarded those weights, I felt as fleet of foot as Hermes.
Imagine if on the day of the cross country meet, I lined up on the starting line with my other teammates. The coach is giving us one last pep talk before the gun goes off. Suddenly, he looks down and notices I’m still wearing my ankle weights. With a shocked looked combined with anger, he asks if I have lost my mind! Did I forget this is not practice but an actual meet?
Suppose I were to respond: “No, coach. I thought I would run wearing my weights today. I’ve grown accustomed to them. I like them!” My coach would think I was a dozen fries short of a happy meal! Whoever heard of running a race wearing training weights!
What would be unthinkable in long distance running is commonplace for many Christians. They are trying to run the Christian’s marathon—living the Christian life, but they are constantly held back by too many weights—habits, thoughts, and activities, that impede their progress.
What do you need to discard from your life today so that you may run unhindered in your Christian’s marathon? Whatever it is, take the advice of my north Georgia grandfather, and the author of Hebrews in different terms, and “get shed of it!”