January 4th, 2022 – Tuesday Afternoon
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” ~Hebrews 12:1
This is not or should not be a new passage to us, but it is a passage that we ought to keep in front of us on a consistent basis; the truths and reminders contained in this verse are essential to our very lives and existence. How is this particular verse so important?
First, it comes with the reminder (and truth) of the past faithfulness of God. The “therefore” at the beginning of the verse hearkens back to Hebrews 11 – the “hall of faith” which commemorates many from the past who lived, conquered, suffered, died, and faithfully trusted in the God who is always faithful. They lived by faith and, regardless of how the LORD used them and what circumstances He had for them, their lives stand as testimonies of faith; whatever their story might have entailed, they became part of a huge “cloud of witnesses” that forever testifies to the unfailing promises and character of God.
Second, this passage is especially important for us as believers because it contains a three-part challenge. In light of God’s faithfulness and the faithful testimonies of those who did not get to see the rest of the story (like we have in Christ), we are to: 1. Lay aside or throw off every encumbrance and weight (think of the lightweight nature of the clothes, shoes, etc. of an Olympic or marathon runner) that hinders us from running the race of faith set out by God before us. 2. Lay aside or throw off sin – which so easily entangles us when we are not walking in the Spirit. 3. Finally, we are to run the race of faith with endurance – diligently and faithfully trusting in Him who gives us His grace, strength, and mercy.
Consider for another moment this three-part challenge and what it means for us… It seems clear that the encumbrances and the sin that we are to lay aside are two different things; in other words, the weighty things spoken of in this verse are not necessarily sinful or bad things. Obviously we are called and equipped to do away with sin and to walk free from it by the power of the Spirit; but, the weighty encumbrances too? This reality ought to jar us awake and cause us to think more carefully about the race set before us. If it is worth throwing off even “good” things for the sake of the run, oughtn’t we to be taking it seriously? What should we be laying aside in our personal lives? Is there something keeping us from fulfilling the will of God for us RIGHT NOW? Are we too busy or held back by weights that we need to let go of so that we can operate more fully as children and servants of God?
Remember this race is THE RACE. Nothing in life matters as much as running this race well and nothing will compare to hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Let us lay aside every encumbrance and every sin, and let us run with endurance by His grace husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, children, students, laborers, invalids, neighbors, or whatever else we might be or do. He is worthy of our all and He is able to carry us through!