Dropping The Weight
Nowhere in the Bible are we promised that following Christ will be easy. Actually, Jesus tells us the opposite. In John chapter 16, Jesus tells us that we "will have tribulation" because of following Him.
Difficult times will come. We will suffer, be stressed out to the gills… We will go through times where everything that can go wrong - does go wrong. It's TOUGH to follow Christ in the example He left us to follow.
The more closely we walk with him (i.e. serving, diving deeper into his word, praying more) the harder it can get at times.
This seems to be the idea in the book of Hebrews. These Christians were enduring a terrible time of trial and persecution. In light of that, the writer is attempting to encourage these weary, hurting believers to be faithful to the Lord and to continue to run their race. He isn't talking about a 100 yard dash. Instead, he is referring to a marathon - A race that requires endurance and preparation.
I'm not sure about you… but I know that I am in no physical shape to run in a marathon, but I can be in the kind of spiritual shape it takes to run the Christian race… and so can you!
In a day when runners seem to be dropping out on every hand, there are times when it is easy to be discouraged about your own race. When trials come, there may be the temptation to drop out for a while and let others do the running.
I want to help you stay in the race! I want to share some steps that are given in these verses that will help you and me run this race we are in today. I do not know what you may be facing right now, but I do know doing the things revealed in these verses will help us all to be runners who are pleasing to the Lord God. As the Lord moves, allow me to share with you these Steps For Staying In The Race. My goal in this message is that when we reach the end of this race we might say with the Apostle Paul,
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim.
HEBREWS 12:1-3 (NKJV)
The Race of Faith
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, 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. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself,”
What types of “Weights” is the Bible talking about here? It is telling us here, that we need to make changes in our lives…. For the better…
Today I’m going to highlight three different weights we all seem to fall into from time to time.
Tradition / Routine “That’s how I’ve always done it”
In my everyday life, I have a certain routine… if you will… that helps me to maximize my time with anything I do. For example… when I bring home the groceries… I make 1 maybe 2 trips from the car to the kitchen… no matter how many bags I have.
My amazing wife always offers to help but time after time… I always decline her offer and ‘brute’ myself to bring in an entire, overflowing cart worth of groceries in my two hands. This sounds all good until I realize I have to close the truck door and then open the door to the house, then figure out a way to get through the hallway with all these bags that are also cutting my circulation off and causing my hands to go numb.
I could probably make life MUCH easier if I would simply take multiple short and QUICK trips from the truck to the kitchen, or simply accept the help that is offered.
Getting all the groceries in the house with one trip… figuring out how to hold them all at the same time, make it in the house, close doors and shimmy through the hallways is only ONE part of this equation. The next thing is to figure out how to let them all down… and then put them away… and that’s a whole different ball game in itself.
You see… if I would cut the weights bearing down on me (in this case grocery bags) I would get in the house much quicker.. And with much less stress… but ol’ self doesn't let that happen.
When I try to do it my way… it’s difficult and takes longer than I would like.
On top of that, If I would simply accept my wife's help, I would probably not have to make nearly as many trips AND I would have someone to help with the door.
More efficient, much easier.
In our Christian race, we carry a lot of weight because of multiple reasons.
My own ‘logic’ tells me I have to do this to look big and strong for my wife, when, in reality, I’m already the apple of her eye whether I carry one at a time or 50.
We all know and love the story of Peter. Peter is known for trusting or leaning on his own logic. In Matthew we read the story of Peter walking on water, but something goes bad wrong.
Matthew 14:30 “ But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
He is SO excited that he steps out of his boat (i.e. safety/comfort zone) and does the impossible. Peter isn't anything special as far as abilities go, but something miraculous happens because he fixes his eyes on Jesus. After being out on the water, Peter’s human “LOGIC” sees the waves and no doubt feels the winds blowing on him strong then suddenly realizes he is walking on WATER…. IN THE MIDDLE OF A STORM!!! Immediately he begins to sink.
When we take our eyes off Jesus, we try to figure things out on our own… we try to do things ourselves, based on our own logic and understanding or experience, then we realize how hard things can be. We realize that it is going to be impossible to do on our own.
Sometimes we look at whatever situation we are going through, and try to figure them out with our own logic…
INSTEAD of trusting in Him…
INSTEAD of keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus with 100% trust in all things.
What weighed Peter down??????? Taking his eyes off Jesus weighed him down. Trying to figure out things on his own….Trusting his own logic over Jesus' power and grace is the weight that pulled him down.
2. Physical Weights
Sometimes it can be physical things like being too involved in sports or maybe it’s a possession you have that takes up too much of your time. Things that take you away from spending time with those you love or from serving or spending time with our church family and building relationships.
Maybe it’s that new ATV or new phone or project you are working on in the garage.
Maybe it’s your car, or your house that you clean obsessively.
It’s not a sin to have these things right?
But they can be a weight on your walk with Christ.
James 4:17 NKJV “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
1 Samuel tells us the story we all know and love about David and Goliath. One of my favorites.King Saul offers his armor to David to wear as he goes to face off with the giant. David was a young man at this point, and 1 Samuel tells us how Saul was very tall.
1 Samuel 17:39 - “David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off.”
Even if the armor did fit good, because of the weight and fit, one would have to train and practice walking and swinging the sword while wearing the armor in order for the armor to benefit them. After trying on the armor, David realizes it is only going to slow him down. He can't even walk, and he knew that wasn't going to help. Even though this would protect his body from the super powerful blows of Goliath's sword… giving him that extra bit of time he would need to stay alive…
David turned down the kings armor.
David's eyes was fixed on the Lord.
David and Peter differ here.
David… a shepherd boy… runs toward a Giant Warrior in full armor, whom the entire Kingdom was afraid to go against… strong warriors no doubt…. With only a sing and 5 small stones from a brook.
David didn't have all this armor… and it would make sense for him to 'want' to wear it…. David said no…. I don't need that, I have God on my side. David didn’t understand why Saul’s entire army was so afraid, David didn't care how big that giant was... David didn't use his own logic. David knew God was bigger.
Maybe your physical things are habits you have, maybe you simply do things around your house without doing it WITH Jesus. Maybe you take concerns in your house without praying about everything. Maybe you don't ask Jesus for help in everything you do because you don't want to bother him so much.
JESUS died for you because he wants every ounce of you.
He knew you were going to mess up tomorrow…. After you have already asked and been granted forgiveness for your sins…. He knew that you were going to betray him, to sin again and again. But he STILL died and rose again so that you and I could have life with him forever in heaven. He wants to hear about ALL you are doing. He wants to help you. His whole life on earth showed LOVE and how much he loved everyone… no matter who they were or what they have done or who/what they were currently doing.
Maybe you have people whom you need to forgive…
My dad was raised by his big sister, Rita. She was married and had two twin girls at about 3 years of age. One afternoon, about 2 o'clock, Rita, with her husband and twin girls were in the back seat waiting for a train to finish crossing in the town they resided in somewhere in Ohio. A man who was drunk out of his mind came up behind them. This man didn't see the train… had no clue this car with my aunt and cousins were waiting for it to cross. He Sped into the vehicle, forcing Rita, her husband and her twin girls into the moving train. There was nothing to salvage from the wreckage to even place into a box for a funeral… all of them died a horrific and painful death.
All EXCEPT the drunk who walked away without even a broken bone! My dad hated this man for years…. The guy didn't even serve a few months in jail before he was released with a mere slap on the wrist. When my dad came to know the Lord nearly 25 years later, God reminded him and convicted him of this hatred that had boiled inside his heart for years until my dad forgave that man for what he had done. He TRULY forgave him, and prayed for that man, wherever he was now, that he would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Maybe you are holding onto a grudge….
Matthew 6:14-15 - For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Maybe you are not patient with people at the store…
Maybe when you are wronged or taken advantage of, you puff up and want to get revenge.
I GET IT
We are all human and can all relate to that…. But would Jesus do that? No… as a matter of fact.. He did the opposite… Even though he knew we would do the unspeakable, he came to pay the price that we would otherwise have on our backs. If we are to make it through the race… we have to ENDURE tough times… We can't do that leaning on ourselves… I know I sure can't. We are flawed…. Our logic doesn't weigh on the same scales as His.
Professional athletes all have three things in common… no matter what sport they compete in.
They all tried time and time again and failed. Even after they made it big, they still messed up
They never gave up. Each time they failed, they just tried again and again until they overcame that hurdle.
They look up to someone who already achieved the goal they want to attain.
They model their actions to resemble someone who has done it… .who has made it to the top… someone who has become the best in the world.
We Must Make Proper Preparations. When there is a race to be run, the wise runner must make careful preparations. The same is true in a spiritual race as well. We will never reach our fullest potential for the Lord until we are willing to make the preparations and sacrifices that are necessary for running the race.
Sometimes it’s hard to let go of the weights we have holding us back because it’s something we have always used or had or wanted. Maybe we think we can't put these weights down. We try to run the Christian race with the weights still attached to our bodies.
But can you 'really' follow God 100% if you are carrying these weights with you? Refusing to change for whatever reason? Remember, these verses are asking us to make changes within ourselves.
Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Break away from the weights that are holding you back. Drop the weight and train your body for the marathon set before us as Christians. The life we live is no longer ours but belongs to Christ and all his glory.
One of the greatest visual depictions of dropping weights for your race that I've seen on film is from the movie Forrest Gump. Forrest, a young boy, had leg braces and could barely walk…. But when he decided he needed to run…. He focused straight ahead…. On his goal… and the braces (the weights) began to fly off.
We can break away the braces on our legs that we have allowed ourselves to put on our lives…
We can walk on water…
We can slay the giants in our life when our eyes are set on Jesus.
You may say you can't do it…. You can't forgive that person… you can't quit doing this or that…
Maybe you have tried but failed…..
And you are absolutely right…
But fortunately… we have someone we can look up to. We have someone we can model our lives after….
John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
That someone has already been through it all and overcame it all with a PERFECT record, and is now the judge of this race of life. That someone is standing there right now to reach out and help us across the finish line, giving you all the inside tips and tricks that will result in winning the race.
We can ask for any help from Jesus when we are struggling and he WILL help us.
John 16:23 (NKJV): Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
In the end, when our race is finished and we stand before the throne of God… will you be able to join with Paul and many others in saying : "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." 2 Tim. 4:7 NKJV