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
Life is a race and the goal is to win the prize from the Master of the games. We have the example of the people of the past. The writer to the book of Hebrews reminds us that this is an endurance race, so get rid of extra stuff that you don’t need to carry. This extra stuff consists of two kinds of things. He calls them encumbrances and the sin that so easily entangles us. Let’s look at these two in more detail.
every encumbrance: We each begin carrying relationships, ideas, and activities that slow us down from accomplishing God’s plan for our lives. These things are not sin and they are not evil, but they do distract us and occupy our minds at times almost fully on silly things. It is these that God is addressing here. God wants us to enjoy life and live a deeply enriching life, but He also wants us to make progress on the race He has given us. These extra things that we keep in our life hold us back and keep us from really making progress for Him.
Clearly the picture is of a long distance runner who strips himself down to the smallest possible weight for clothing and shoes to run more effectively. In the first century, runners in the Olympic games would strip naked in order to have nothing that was holding them back.
What are the extra weights in your life that every time you begin to make significant progress for God begin to hold you down or impede that progress? Relationships, friendships, loans, activities, guilt, television, etc.
One of the truths about successful people is that they do not watch much television. Even if you were to cut back on television one hour per day it would free up significant amounts of time in your week for creativity and production.
Ask yourself if there some encumbrance in your life that keeps you from truly being successful and/or productive for God? Most people will not have the discipline to move away from that thing or cut it out of their life. But those who truly want to be successful will eliminate anything that stands in their way.
the sin which so easily entangles us: It seems that each of us has sins that we want to do. Sins that cling to us in that we have a hard time stopping. If we were to look at the ancient list of deadly sins: pride, envy, anger, lust, sloth, gluttony, and greed, everyone of us can see that we are regularly tempted by three or four of these sins and the others do not bother us. It is the ones that are easy for us to give into that are being discussed here. We are trying to make progress in this race called life and these sins hold us back, turn us down the wrong road, or trip us up.
Do you keep giving into the temptation to puff yourself up? Do you continue to look down on others because they are different from you in some way? Do you get angry or depressed when others get promoted or do well because you think it should have been you? All of these and hundreds of other examples are pride, and it is holding you back from making the progress that you could in your life. It is holding you back in your career, your relationships, your love for God.
Do you find yourself wanting the good things of others and resenting them for having something you do not? Do you become obsessed with noticing the blessings of others?
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.