Laying the Weights Aside by J.R. Waller, MBA
1) Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)
Sometimes people approach the Bible fearing they need a degree in theology to make sense of its passages. However, God’s Word is beautifully simple. Much of the Bible is actually straight forward and easy to understand.
Conversely, much of God’s Word is a manual, it’s instructive, and like any good piece of technical writing, it is surprisingly easy to follow, just as God intended it to be. God made his Word simple so we can know and follow Him.
Seek first God’s kingdom (Matt. 6:33), repent and believe (Mk. 1:15), take heed, taste and see that the Lord is good (Ps. 34:8) and so on.
The Bible is filled to the brim with such commands, and today’s verse comes from the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, which is a chapter known specifically for its many easy to comprehend exhortations. An exhortation being a challenge or charge meant to compel the reader to action.
Notice the exhortation in our verse, it says lay aside every weight.
In the rest of this Bible study we’re going to look at what it means to lay aside things that weigh and drag us down in the Christian life and that hinder our efforts to serve God and run the race of the Christian life with patience.
We’ll also seek to understand what sorts of weights we’re to lay aside, why we are to do so and how we can accomplish laying aside every weight.
What Does It Mean to Lay Aside Every Weight?
Laying aside every weight is an instructive command given so that we may know how to run properly and effectively in our Christian life. We can only run as God intends us too by laying things aside that bog us down.
To lay aside means to cast away, get rid of and lay down. The analogy, in the context of this passage which uses the imagery of a runner, can be thought of as a runner removing an article of clothing that weighs him down, or of a runner losing weight for a race.
When we lay aside a hindrance or a burden, it means we let it go for good. And we have to. Why? Because as believers we are to run our race with endurance.
For example, when you lay down a weight you aren’t mean to pick it back up again, doing so would require taking two steps forward and one step back – the step back being to retrieve the weight!“We can only run as God intends us too by laying things aside that bog us down.”
Thus, when you’re supposed to be moving forward, going back or taking the time to pick up a weight again impedes your progress.
The reality is that you can only run the race of the Christian life properly by moving continually forward with renewed vigor, confidence and verve.
Here’s another example. I used to do long distance running, and though I was hardly a pro I did develop some techniques to help me run better.
For instance, in cold weather I’d dress in layers. This is a standard technique in cold weather running. As you run, especially in cold weather, your body heats up, sometimes as much as if it were 20 degrees hotter than the actual air temperature.
So, when I’d run I’d take off my jacket at a certain point, and then I’d remove yet another lighter jacket until I’d be running in only a long sleeve shirt by the end.
If at any point I would have put the extra layers back on during the final legs of the race I’d pass out! I’d be too hot and they’d weigh me down. It’s the same way with casting away our weights in a spiritual sense.
What Sorts of Weights Are We to Lay Aside?
That being said, sometimes it can be downright tough to fully lay aside the things that weigh us down.
At times the things that weigh us down bring us an odd sense of comfort – it’s hard to let the baggage go, we almost get used to it in a strange way, so much so that it can be hard to live without our baggage.
Regardless, the command remains…lay aside every weight. But what are these weights exactly?
The Geneva Bible provides a clue, it tells us to “cast away everything that presseth down” (emphasis mine).
Things that press down slow us down, and impede our spiritual progress in life. Weights then are things that keep us from serving God effectively, things that take our eyes off Jesus and distract and things that cause us to slow down and stumble as we try to better ourselves.“Sometimes laying aside weights isn’t instantaneous. We’re to lay aside every weight. Naturally some will be easier than others to let down.”
It is important to note that weights in this verse are not sins. In fact, sin is mentioned specifically after “every weight” as something additional that we are to especially cast away. Also, not everything is a weight. Some things in our life are good and we must keep them and not confuse them with weights.
Just because something is difficult does not mean it is a weight, the key is whether it is something that is clearly separating us from God and the life he would have for us.
To review, a weight is not something that is necessarily sinful, they are merely things that trip us up, slow us down or hinder our range of motions and stunt our progress and effectiveness as believers.
Nor are weights similar for each individual. What might be a hindrance to you might not be to me, and vice versa.“Just because something is difficult does not mean it is a weight, the key is whether it is something that is clearly separating us from God and the life he would have for us.”
Specifically, weights can be all manner of things. Sometimes the cares (anxieties) of this life weigh us down. (Lk. 21:34) A good clue are things that are untrue, such as lies from the devil that cause us to think we’re not good enough, that we’ll never get it together, that God does not love us, and so on.
Thinking like this that contradicts God’s Word is certainly a weight to lay aside. For others weights might be struggles with debilitating fear, anxiety, worry or other burdens.
Sometimes laying aside weights isn’t instantaneous. We’re to lay aside every weight. Naturally some will be easier than others to let down.
Think back to running and the context and original meaning of the verse. A runner who loses weight does not do so in a day; it takes time. Conversely, working through things that we wish to lay down can be a process.“Examine your own life and circumstances. What are some “weights” that you need to lay down? If they’re easy to lay down then let them go, if they take more time be patient, unashamed and trust God throughout the process.”
Mental health difficulties, addictions and trauma for example take time to heal. Also, these are not necessarily sins and Christians need not be ashamed when faced with confronting them. In fact, the mere desire that you want these weights gone is an evidence of your genuineness and commitment to Christ as a believer.
On the other hand, some weights are trivial but can impact us a lot over the long haul. Overly committed schedules, too many responsibilities, bad eating habits and so on.
Ultimately, each of us must search our own hearts. Examine your own life and circumstances. What are some “weights” that you need to lay down? If they’re easy to lay down then let them go, if they take more time be patient, unashamed and trust God throughout the process.
Why Do We Have to Lay Things Aside?
By this point in the lesson the reason for laying aside our weights might seem obvious – so we can follow and serve God to our fullest – and to an extant it is that simple.
However, we see that our race is one that lasts for our entire earthly lives. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. It’s one that requires patience and endurance.“God uses weights in our lives, and the casting off of them to further sanctify us and make us more like Him.”
Running such a long distance can only be accomplished by recognizing and being vigilant of things that are hindering our lives for Christ, and working to lay them aside.
Moreover, God uses weights in our lives, and the casting off of them to further sanctify us and make us more like Him.
The Christian life is a process, and laying aside some weights might seem daunting, but we have the power of a very present help in trouble to get us through. (Ps. 46:1, Heb. 4:16)
And it is to this power that we turn our attention to next as we close out today’s lesson.
Conclusion – Look to Jesus
In this lesson we’ve learned that Christians are called to lay aside things that keep them from pressing forward and progressing in the Christian life.
Laying a weight or impediment aside means to cast it away for good and not going back to pick it up. Moreover, such weights are not necessarily sinful, nor are they the same for each believer.
Ultimately, some are trivial and some are serious, some take time to work through, others can be sloughed off easily.“Jesus is the author and finisher of our race who infinitely loves us and is there every step, side-step and step back, of the way.”
And just because something is difficult does not mean it is a weight, the key is whether it is something that is clearly separating us from God and the life he would have for us.
The point is that each of us must have a continual mindset of awareness of our pace and progress in the Christian life, and must always keep Jesus in plain sight. (Heb. 12:2)
Persecution, trials, suffering, distractions, and all manner of things will deter us and our progress in the long distance race that is the Christian life. And while some of the things mentioned in this lesson today may sound daunting or feel impossible, there is good news – you don’t have to do it alone!
Hebrews 12:2 emphatically declares that we are to look to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus is the author and finisher of our race who infinitely loves us and is there every step, side-step and step back, of the way.
We are who we are as Christians by God’s grace, he works in us to accomplish great things he has set out for us to do for Him and he will see us through to the end. (1 Cor. 15:10, Eph. 2:10, Phil. 2:13, Phil. 1:6)
If you try to toss all your weights aside in your own power you’ll fail. Instead, look to Jesus!
Cast your cares and burdens on him, pray to him to aid you and for the Holy Spirit to remove impediments from your progress and he will give you rest. (1 Pet. 5:7, Matt. 11:28)“If you’re facing a mountain of weights that you want to let go of today but don’t know how, look to Jesus, his words and his church for help.”
Also, look to the cloud of testifiers (those who are witnesses to us from the past and whose examples compel us forward) and listen to their examples. Be open with your fellow Christian friends and church family, you don’t have to do it alone nor are we to.
God will enable you to remove things that are weighing you down, as will the examples of the past and fellow believers in your life today.
Remember, with God, all things are possible. If you’re facing a mountain of weights that you want to let go of today but don’t know how, look to Jesus, his words and his church for help. (Matt. 19:26, 2 Cor. 1:4)
Soli Deo gloria!
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