The apostle Paul indicates in Hebrews 12:1 that the Christian life is like a running race. We run that race with the encouragement of many heroes of the faith that have gone before us (Ch. 11). And when we run, Paul tells us that we must “lay aside every encumbrance [or weight], and the sin which so easily entangles us (NASB)…”
Since Paul separates “weight” from “the sin,” I don’t think the “weight” he is referring to here is necessarily a sin, but it could be. And I think its purpose is to lead us and keep us in sin. Sin here could be sin in general; but since it has the article attached to it, I would say that it is that particular sin that we have trouble with, or, as the text indicates, that “so easily entangles us.” Hence, I think that for every person there is one particular sin that is most troublesome. And I think the weight that he carries around has much to do with his not being able to control and get rid of that vexatious, habitual sin.
What is this weight? How can we define it? It is an impediment, or a hindrance, or an encumbrance that slows us down and keeps us from finishing the race in the time God would desire for us. Another way of putting it, it is that which keeps us from hearing the voice of God or that keeps us from desiring to hear His voice. It is whatever dulls our spiritual senses, puts us on the path of sin, saps our endurance, and keeps us from looking toward Jesus (Heb. 12:2).
Like sins, you may have certain weights designed by Satan to discourage you and entrap you. I don’t know what your weights are, but here are six of them that we will examine:
Six Weights in the Christian Run
1. Personal hopes and goals (traveling, degrees, people I want to meet, business goals, savings, sports metals and trophies, etc.). I have come to believe that personal hopes and goals are not as acceptable in the Lord’s eyes as we have come to believe. Our hope should be in the Lord and all that He has for us. In fact, 1 Peter 1:13 tells us to “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” It is not sinful to make plans and to have dreams to do things in life; however, we must hold these things very loosely, as not to let them control us or take us off course. If that happens they will become to us weights on our legs, weighing us down in the race to see Him on that great day.
2. Material things (our clothing, a house, home furnishings, cars, etc.). Material things are certainly gifts from the Lord that we should enjoy. But if we begin to love those things more than the Lord, and if we let our desires for them steer us away from the Lord, then they will become as weight as we run in the faith race.
3. Entertainment (TV shows, movies, games, sports, parties, etc.). If we aren’t very entertained and enthralled by the Lord and by the things we do in His kingdom, then we may very easily be drawn into and entrapped by the world’s entertainment. Now all entertainment is not bad, but if we find that we entertain ourselves to the extent that we exclude the things of God, then they become impediments to our faith race.
4. Overeating (eating more than we need to be healthy, eating junk food, eating more for the taste than for our nourishment). If food becomes a greater love and joy then the word of God, we are in trouble; for it will desensitize our desire for God, and we will lose our sense of taste for the word. Also, overeating will tend to overstimulate certain bodily desires, making it almost impossible to control our lusts.
5. Worldly books and teachings (worldly and sinful things and teachings of all kinds). The Christian should always be reading and studying the bible and other books and materials that are true and good (Phil. 4:8). But when we venture out to learn teachings that are not true (false doctrines and cults and stories full of lust and sin), we are poisoning our mind and therefore we are then not able to think clearly; and we begin to doubt and see only hazily the clear truth of God.
6. Fears and worries. Fears and worries brought on by the many problems in life, can be a constant hindrance to the faith and make it so that we feel as if we are running in slow motion or running with weights on our back. But God has given us a solution. If we take the time to consider our ways (Hag. 1:7), confess all our sins (1 Jn. 1:9); and then if we pray over every problem, asking God for help, He will cleanse us from every sin and free us in our mind from every fear, giving us great peace that will overwhelm us with joy. Oh what joy that will be to feel the weights fall off of us. And then to be able to run the race with such ease and patience.