December 15, 2004 • By Ed Wrather12.15.04
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. - Hebrews 12:1-2.
How would you feel about running a marathon on a treadmill? Think about it. The scenery would never change with only the digital readout revealing how many more miles were ahead. Michael Wardian has set a world record time running a 26.2 mile marathon on a treadmill. He beat the previous world record by seven minutes. Wardian said about the two hours and almost 24 minutes of running on a treadmill that, "It's difficult just because you always know where you are so you can't trick yourself. You just look down and you know where you are." Christopher Farley, owner of a new running store where the record was set said, "The monotony of a treadmill - the idea that you have to stay balanced for almost two-and-a-half hours - is a lot harder. It really becomes claustrophobic."
Some of us know exactly what Wardian and Farley are talking about. Why? Because we have been running on the treadmill of life with the scenery never changing and the years passing by. The weight of the world’s demands, and the continued participation in habitual sin have us running in place never moving forward in the Christian life.
The writer of the book of Hebrews urges us to lay aside “every weight.” In training for athletic events, weights are sometimes worn to gain stamina and to warm up for an event. The writer of Hebrews is saying that this is the real thing, this is the race of your life, and it is time to put aside everything that would slow you down. Lay aside the demand of the world to buy the clothes worn by friends, or fellow employees. Lay aside the desire to own or lease a vehicle equivalent to that of your friends. Put down the idea that you have to live in the best neighborhood, send your kids to the best schools, and have the best vacations. Lay aside the idea that your husband or your wife must resemble the actors, actresses, and models, which appear in the media. You must grab hold of the fact that you must live in the real world where everything and everyone will not always be perfect.
The writer of Hebrews also encourages us to lay aside the “sin which so easily ensnares us.” These are besetting sins; habitual sins, which once they have gained a place in our lives, are difficult to overcome. These ensnaring, besetting sins include alcohol/drug addictions, and sexual sins. Here we see an important spiritual fact and that is that it is possible to lay aside even these sins or we would not be told to do so. How can we lay them aside? We must follow the instructions, which follow verse 1. We must look to Jesus who has the power to enable us to lay aside these things. The apostle Paul in Philippians 4:13 said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You too, through Christ Jesus, can do all things the Christian life requires including the laying aside of the weight of worldly things and ensnaring sins.