“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV).
All Christians are running in a spiritual race, but it is only those who endure to the end or finish well that will obtain the crown.
Unlike other races where several athletes only compete for one prize, for there could only be one winner in the competition; the Christian race offers the opportunity for all involved to be winners.
The winner of any race in this world can only obtain a perishable prize or crown. However, the victorious Christian will receive an imperishable crown at the end of the spiritual race.
1 Corinthians 9:
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. (NKJV).
In every race there are specific rules or guidelines to observe and follow by everyone in the race. The Christian race is no exception. An athlete is not declared a winner or crowned unless he competes or runs according to the rules of the race.
2 Timothy 2:
4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (NKJV).
Similarly, a Christian should not expect to be crowned and rewarded at the end of the spiritual race if he does not run according to God-set rules or guidelines. It is therefore very imperative for us to be familiar with the spiritual rules or guidelines for running the Christian race and winning the prize.
These important spiritual rules or guidelines are clearly presented in the Bible.
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NKJV).
It is wisdom for us to carefully examine these rules.
First and foremost, it is worthy of notice that the passage (Heb. 12:1-2) begins by informing us that “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.”
Like the cloud of spectators who always watch and cheer on athletes, contestants or competitors at the Olympic Games, the victorious saints of old, few of those mentioned in the hallmark of faith in the preceding chapter (Heb. 11), are also watching and cheering us on as we run the race set before us.
While our cloud of witnesses may not be visible to us like the visible cloud of witnesses or spectators at the Olympic Games, yet their records, stories and testimonies are clearly presented in the Bible for our learning, encouragement, comfort and hope along the race.
4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. (NKJV).
The testimonies of the victorious saints of old are a valid proof to those of us coming behind them in the Christian race that it is possible to live uprightly, justly, blamelessly, or righteously in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15, 1 Thess. 2:10, Heb. 11:5).
What are the spiritual rules governing the Christian race that every Christian must carefully observe and follow in order to finish the race well and obtain the crown?
Let us consider them one after another.
First, the Scripture commands, “Let us lay aside every weight.” (Heb. 12:1 NKJV).
The Greek word translated “weight” in this scripture is “onkos” and it denotes “a bulk or mass;” hence, metaphorically, “an encumbrance, weight” (Vine’s Dict.).
In the ancient days, weights were stones carved in shapes, usually with a flat base and often inscribed with their weight and the standard they followed. In those days, people usually carried weights in a pouch or bag with them.
This is why God commands, “You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light.” (Deut. 25:13 NKJV).
No athlete can run successfully or win a race while carrying any weight on him. Similarly, no Christian can run and finish the Christian race successfully while bearing any form of spiritual weight. This is why the Scripture forbids you to run the Christian race with any form or size of weight.
It is therefore imperative for you to identify and put off or lay aside every weight on you as you run the spiritual race that is set before you.
What are the weights that can hinder or disallow you from running successfully and finishing well the Christian race?
Anything that constitutes a nuisance, burden, or hindrance to your spiritual well being! Anything that retards your spiritual growth or weakens your faith in God!
Anything that constantly weighs you down, or exhausts your spiritual strength, or breaks your spiritual focus is a weight that you must lay aside as you run the Christian race.
Every care, fear, worry, anxiety, doubt or unbelief you allow in your heart is a weight you cannot successfully run the Christian race with.
Spiritual weights come in different sizes, forms or shapes. It may come in the form of being unequally yoked together with an unbeliever in a marriage or business relationship; or in the form of friendship that constantly influences you negatively; or in the form of a career, job, ministry or business that constantly distracts you from following the Lord Jesus wholeheartedly; or in the form of worldly pleasures that set your affections on the fleeting things of this world.
Beloved, it is certainly unwise and unprofitable to seek to run the Christian race with any size, form or shape of weight. At this point, it is wise for you to pause and examine your life critically to identify the weights you have been bearing along as you run the race and see to it that you lay down every one of them at the Lord’s feet.
Whatever in your life that has become a weight, hindrance, or distraction to you must be promptly laid aside, put off, or given up so that you may finish your race well and obtain your crown.
Friend, are you weighed down by cares, worries or anxieties about life?
The Scripture admonishes on what to do.
22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved. (NKJV).
1 Peter 5:
7 Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (NKJV).
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (NKJV).
Discover another spiritual rule or guideline for running successfully and finishing well the Christian race in the next piece.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for surrounding me with a cloud of witnesses as I run the race set before me. Dear Holy Spirit, help me to identify and lay aside promptly every weight on me as I run my race, in Jesus’ name. Amen.