life of faith, let us strip aside every weight that slows us down, especially the
sin which so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance
the race that God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1 NLT
When I was a kid in school, I ran track. I was the fastest kid in my 6th grade class and was the anchor man on our 440 relay team. When I ran, I wore lightweight shorts, a lightweight tank top and track shoes. Our coach made sure we were all dressed appropriately so that we could run as fast possible, with no added weight to slow us down and hinder our progress.
The writer of Hebrews said we are in a race as Christians, and we need to make sure we are dressed appropriately. We must make sure we have laid aside all that which would weigh us down. You see, we cannot win the race if we are dressed in heavy clothes, carrying a load of baggage.
GET RID OF THE WEIGHTS
In my years as a pastor, I have found that many Christians are not doing well in the race that is set before them. They are not winning. They are discouraged and tired and ready to throw in the towel. What is the problem? They are trying to run the race with a 100 pound pack on their back. Listen, the fastest man in the world (Usain Bolt) couldn't beat a 9th grade sprinter if he were hauling an extra 100 pounds on his back.
What weight are you carrying?
1. Many carry around the weight of guilt and shame. They have sinned greatly in the past, and they cannot seem to escape the torment of the guilt. They do well in spurts, but then the thought of that terrible sexual sin, that divorce, that abortion, that horrible thing they did pulls them back down.
What are we to do with our past sins? Get them out in the open and under His blood. When you openly confess your sins to God, believe Him for total and complete cleansing. Quit elevating your sin over His blood. If He says He forgives you (1 John 1:9), accept it and go on your way rejoicing!!! Acts 10:15 says, "What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy."
2. Many carry around the weight of resentment and bitterness. The world is full of angry, bitter people. These folks have been hurt, mistreated, laughed at, and wronged. and as a result they are so angry and so bitter inside.
Bitterness is a weight that MUST be laid aside. If not, you will never, ever, ever win the race. Jesus said, "If you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive you" (Matthew 6:15). You cannot function in the Christian life if the Lord will not forgive you. You must forgive those who have hurt you. By faith, let that person go who caused you such pain. Release them to Jesus and accept His healing for your heart and for your hurts.
3. Many carry around the weight of sadness and loss. Losing something or someone you love is very hard. Your heart breaks and it is difficult to go on, but you must go on. God still has a plan for you. Life still holds meaning.
You cannot live in the past, you must live in the present. There is a time to mourn and a time to cry. and then there is a time to move on. David lost a son when he was a baby. His heart ached for that sick little boy. He prayed and fasted for a week for his healing. But healing never came, and the baby died. What did David do? He went on with life. He said in effect, "My child is dead. I cannot bring him back again. God wants me to get up and get on with life" (2 Sam. 12:23).
No matter how much you may have lost, your life is not over until the Lord calls you home. Quit focusing on what you ONCE had, and focus on what you DO have. Praise God for the little, because He does not owe you any. If you have breath in your lungs today, it is a gift from God. Praise Him for it!
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO
The time is now to lay aside the weights we so often carry around with us. The time is now to get rid of the guilt and the bitterness and start living in the present. If you will do it, you will run unhindered. You will run victoriously. And one day, you will meet the Lord at the finish line. He will be there to greet you with a huge smile and a standing ovation saying with tremendous love and joy, "Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy of your Master!"
Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.