Summary: So we need to maintain a good weight as we run the race of faith. But just what does that mean?
“The Road to a Better Life: Maintain a Good Weight”
Let’s have a moment of honesty. How many of you have, at some point in your life, been concerned about your weight? How many of you have been in a situation where your weight was important to the situation – you needed to fit into the wedding dress, you were going to spend time on the beach in your swimsuit, you had a doctor’s appointment - whatever? While there are many factors to healthy living, weight is a critical one because it impacts so many of the others. And what’s true in our physical lives is true in our spiritual lives as well.
The author of Hebrews, in chapter 11, lists a host of God’s people who faced difficult decisions and situations but persevered in faith. He then launches into an exhortation for us to run as they did. And to do so he refers to our weight – since to run well we must maintain good weight.
Let’s follow his exhortation. He begins by telling us to TRIM OUR WEIGHT. Verse 1: “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” The implication is that we are all too heavy for this race, so the author urges us to strip down to our proper weight, to throw off, get rid of, to shed “…everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” First, GET RID OF HINDRANCES. Runners throw off their regular shoes, their slacks and shirts, the warm-up suits. They wear as little as possible so as to go as fast and far as possible. So what, for us, is “everything that hinders?” Another way to translate the phrase is to “Strip off every weight…” Whatever weighs us down, whatever gets in the way of running, whatever hinders progress, must go! Finances, relationships, business commitments and issues, hobbies, service projects, many irons in the fire and other time related issues – whatever distracts and deters your life of faith must go. Notice that many of these things are, in and of themselves, good things. But when they become extra spiritual fat which impedes our running, they must be stripped off.
Randy Alcorn has written some wonderful novels with Christian themes. One of them is titled “Edge of Eternity.” I call it a modern day “Pilgrim’s Progress.” It’s the story of a man who is lifted off into a journey to the brink of Charis – heaven – only to be sent back to Skiathuros – earth – a transformed man. On his journey he and his companions meet up with a frazzled woman who is carrying a heavy load. One of his companions says to her, “’What you carry grows heavier each day, and you become weaker.' The frazzled woman looked at her things and fingered them. 'But my art, my music, my books, my collection,' she said. 'These are good things, aren't they?' 'Many of them are good,' Malaiki said, 'and we should thank the King for them. But even the best things can't endure the journey. They're expendable. The GuideBook says we shouldn't hold anything too close in the short today that will not be ours in the long tomorrow. It commands us to travel light.'’” (1) What is it that weighs you down, that holds you back in your life of faith? I invite you this morning to throw it off.
And it’s not only the weights but also “the sin that so easily entangles…” Like running with a robe on, sin will eventually get entangled with our legs and trip us up. So GET RID OF THE SIN. But just what is ‘the sin?” Unbelief. It’s doing the opposite of what the cloud of witnesses in chapter 11 did – it’s failing to trust the promises of God. Much of the Letter to the Hebrews deals with the danger of unbelief. In fact the phrase ‘by or through faith’ occurs 21 times. It really goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. As soon as Eve began to doubt the promise of God, to ‘disbelieve’ that God would do what He promised to do, she sinned. That’s the problem with unbelief – when we fail to believe we sin. If we do not believe God wants the best for us, we will eat forbidden fruit. If we do not believe God wants us to be whole and has our best interests at heart, we will break the commandments. If we do not believe God’s love is the purest love, we will be filled lust and the desire to commit adultery. A person cannot move forward when clothed with unbelief. Where are you having trouble believing? Where have you failed to trust the promises of God? Re-establish your belief and trust on God – otherwise the robe of sin will wrap around you and trip you up.