“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 only those who endure to the end or finish well will obtain the crown.
Unlike other races where several athletes only compete for one prize, 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 9:24-25 – NKJV
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.
There are specific rules or guidelines to observe and follow in every race in every race in every race. The Christian race is no exception. An athlete is not declared a winner or crowned unless he competes or runs according to the race rules.
2 Timothy 2: 4-5 – NKJV
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.
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.
Therefore, we must be familiar with the spiritual rules or guidelines for running the Christian race and winning the prize.
These critical spiritual rules or guidelines are presented in the Bible.
Hebrews 12:1-2 – NKJV
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.
It is wisdom for us to examine these rules carefully.
First and foremost, it is worthy of notice that the passage (Heb. 12:1-2) begins by informing us that so great a cloud of witnesses surrounds us.
Like the cloud of spectators who always watch and cheer on athletes, contestants, or competitors at the Olympic Games, the victorious saints of old, a 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 as the cloud of witnesses or spectators at the Olympic Games, their records, stories, and testimonies are presented in the Bible for our learning, encouragement, comfort, and hope as we run the race.
Romans 15:4 – NKJV
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.
The testimonies of the victorious saints of old are 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 a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15, 1 Thess. 2:10, Heb. 11:5).
What spiritual rules governing the Christian race must every Christian carefully observe and follow 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 as “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 carried weights in a pouch or bag.
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. Similarly, no Christian can successfully run and finish the Christian race while bearing any spiritual weight. That is why the Scripture forbids you to run the Christian race with any form, shape, or size of weight.
Therefore, you must identify and put off or lay aside every weight on you as you run the spiritual race set before you.
What weights can hinder or disallow you from running successfully and finishing well in the Christian race?
Anything 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, exhausts your spiritual strength, or breaks your spiritual focus is a weight 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.
Spiritual weight may also come 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 to pause and examine your life critically to identify the weights you have been bearing along as you run the race and see 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 life’s cares, worries, or anxieties?
The Scripture admonishes what to do.
Psalms 55:22 – NKJV
22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
1 Peter 5:7 – NKJV
7 Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Philippians 4:6-7 – 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.
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.