Summary: Let us therefore throw off all that hinders and run the course set out for us...
Title: The Disciplines of a Disciple of Christ, part I
Robert Baxter, an English Puritan church leader during the 1600’s, had this say:
"It is a most lamentable [regrettable] thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles [unimportant things], while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter [linger, loaf, waste time], or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it."
Some very sound advice that seems to be an echo of the verses that we are studying in Hebrews, chapter 12. Self-educated and coming from a very poor background, where he lacked everything, Baxter was concerned about the church and the materialistic direction it was taking in the middle 1600’s. He was concerned because Christian men and women were letting their time be taken up with what he called, trifles. Things that were unimportant; things that didn’t really matter and really only amount to wood, hay, or stubble:
(1 Corinthians 3:12 NIV) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,
How about this… Have you ever heard of a marathon runner stopping in at McDonalds for a quick snack while they are in the middle of a marathon? Or, have you ever seen a bird that is flying along in the sky suddenly fold its wings?
Yet, that is what a lot of Christians do in their daily walk.
During our day, like the bird that doesn’t want to fly anymore, we fold our wings and we instead attend to something that hinders or something that easily entangles. Like the boxer that is dancing around on the canvas and on the offensive, when suddenly he drops his guard to pick up a dollar on the floor. He attends to something that easily hinders or easily entangles. Many Christians do the same thing in their Christian walk with God. We say such things as, We’re going to step back from ministry for a while…then we expect other servants of God to go out of their way to take care of us because it’s their reasonable duty to do so, isn’t it? Does that about sum it up?
Robert Baxter said,
It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles [unimportant things], while God is cast aside.
The Bible says in verse one of Hebrews 12:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
The author of this book is calling the Hebrews back to a persevering obedience of faith in Christ. That is the race that was set before the Hebrews when they put their faith in Jesus, and that is the race that is set before us.
It seems the Hebrews had yet to give up some of their habits. And, like unwashed and raggedy clothing, those habits were making them dirty when they would put them back on. Those things that were hindering were preventing them from walking consistently with the Lord. Those things that were hindering were preventing them from receiving the full blessing of the Lord.
This analogy is so appropriate because, as we think about it, people today have different sets of clothes for different situations, occasions, or events. We have our church clothes, our work clothes, or those clothes we wear when we clean house or fix the car. When any of those clothes become stained we throw them away. If they become soiled or raggedy beyond cleaning or repair, we throw them away. Now imagine this…what if you take a shower, clean yourself up, and then you put on stinky, filthy clothes? The stink and filth of the clothes will transfer to us sooner or later.
The same reasoning holds true with God working in and through us. We come to church; we repent, or re-dedicate, or re-adjust, or simply put, we get cleaned up by the Spirit through focusing on God in our Bible studies, our praises, prayers, messages, laying on of hands, etc., but, then we go out and return to something that hinders. We go out and put on the same dirty suit or coat that made us dirty in the first place.