FBCJ Feature Article: Lay Aside Every Weight
Lay Aside Every Weight
Hebrews 12:1 (NKJV) 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,
As we look back on 2017 and enter the New Year we can concur with Jeremiah’s assessment of God found in Lamentations 3:22-23, Through the Lord’s mercies we were not consumed, because His compassions fail not.23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. We can conclude 2017 by saying Our God was faithful. Because God is so faithful, God will continue to provide new mercies for us as we journey into 2018.
While I was reading through the Bible’s Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 12, God gave me a simple theme for FBCJ in 2018: Lay Aside Every Weight. God is demanding and requiring us to grow closer to God. What is that hidden thing that is hindering us from being totally sold out for Jesus Christ? Sins we and others can readily identify but God is telling us to look closer at Hebrews 12: 1, God wants us to lay aside every weight that ensnares us. God is pointing us to habits, attitudes and fears that keep us from running our race of faith the way we should. We can agree that both weight and sin hinder us from running the race with endurance and perseverance (e.g. spiritual growth). I am not saying that we should dismiss sin, God tells us emphatically “be holy for I am holy” I Peter 1:16. However, I would like to concentrate on “weight” which equally hinders us from living an obedient Christian life.
Let us take a look at the sentence, Lay aside every weight a little closer. Several sources inform us that the words “lay aside” in the Greek, apotithimi, it is a compound of the words apo and tithimi. The word apo means away and the word tithemi means to place or to lie something down. When these two words are combined, it gives a picture of someone who is laying something down while at the same time they are pushing it far away from them. These words mean we should lay something down and to push it far away from us, a place beyond our reach. Consequently, this Greek word implies that we make a deliberate decision to make a permanent change of our attitude and our behavior.
This kind of change does not come by happenstance. We must decide to change or simply to remove, to lay aside, and to put away attitudes and actions that displease God and negatively affects our walk of faith (Luke 9:23). Hebrews 12:1 refers to these inappropriate attitudes and actions as “weights”. The word “weight” is from the Greek word ogkos — a word that describes a burden or something so heavy and cumbersome that it impedes a runner from running their race. In other words a weight is anything that hinders us from carrying out our calling, something unnecessary to our mission which consumes time and energy that could be better used in progressing God’s kingdom similar to the story in Luke 10:4 when Jesus sent out the 70 disciples. A weight may be one thing for one believer and something else for another. One writer put it this way “a parachute would be unnecessary baggage for a mountain climber, but is essential for a sky diver.”
When we are running a race, anything that adds weight to a runner is a hindrance. Before a race, a runner will strip themselves of any excess weight. The text tells us to remove anything from our lives that would hinder God’s plan or will. What are some of those weights?
- Attitudes toward money, comfort and personal investment (Lk. 12:18)
- Traditions ( Matt. 15:3)
- Keeping company with unprofitable company (2 Cor. 6:14)
- Your schedule is too busy (Lk. 10:38-42)
- A habit of procrastination (Prov. 13:4)
- Idle and unprofitable reading (2 Tim. 2:14-16)
- Unforgiven sin and bitterness ( Lk. 6:37)
In 2018, the Holy Spirit is urging FBCJ to take a look at our lives and then remove anything that weighs us down and keeps us from a life of obedience. Any habit, inappropriate attitude or fear must be stripped away (The Holy Spirit will aid us in this process of sanctification). Galatians 5:16-17: I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.
Led by the Holy Spirit, we will preach the gospel through holistic (spiritual, social, economic and political) development of our community to uplift and glorify the Kingdom of God while effectively developing disciples of Jesus Christ to bring the transformative gospel to the community of unbelievers.
Minister to the eternal, educational, emotional, environmental, and economic needs of all people through Christ’s liberating gospel by word and deed creating transformation for the whole community.
By Pastor Derek V. Gatling