Over the past several weeks I picked up some extra weight that I don’t want and certainly don’t need. It seems to happen every year around this time when there is less chance to get outdoors and work around the yard. I am not saying for certain, but it might also have something to do with eating more of the wrong things around this time of year, too! Anyway, these extra pounds make it harder to do things I normally do and I don’t like it. I guess I’ll have to go on another diet. Again.
Sometimes we also gain extra weight spiritually and that weight hinders us from living the Christian life as we ought. Paul wrote, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). The figure that is being used here is the image of a contender in a foot race. In ancient times, as well as in modern, the runner wants to cast off all extra weight so that it will not slow him down. He wants every advantage to win. In ancient times that often meant running naked. Today we wear clothing that causes less friction.
Spiritually, many Christians carry around all kinds of extra weight that they don’t need and it hinders them. One weight that some Christians carry around is the weight of greed. Some are so enamored of money and wealth that they work so many extra hours that they neglect not only their family but they neglect God and His worship and service. Paul said that the love of money is the root of kinds of evil (I Tim. 6:10). Even elders and preachers can be tempted by the prospect of monetary gain (I Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:10,11). If an apostle could be guilty of this, then so could we (John 12:6).
Some Christians carry around the weight of anger. Certainly, there are enough reasons to be angry in the world. There is cheating, stealing, murders, slanders, hate, etc., abundantly flourishing in the world. I’ve noticed that even Facebook has an icon that you can click to expresses anger at some post. But while we may become angry, we should not let it develop into sin. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26). Anger may satisfy our emotions at the time, but ultimately, anger resteth in the bosom of fools (Eccl. 8:9). Throw off the weight of unrighteous anger.
Other Christians carry the weight of jealousy. Paul encountered those that preached Christ for envy, hoping to add affliction to his bonds (Phil. 1:15,16). Imagine, preachers envious or jealous of other preachers. But it happens. In general terms, some Christians are often jealous of other Christians or even of people in the world. But Paul stated that “charity envieth not” (I Cor. 13:4). Having love in our hearts will give us the strength to throw off the weight of jealousy and envy.
Unfortunately, many Christians carry with them the weight of worldliness. Far too often Christians want the benefits and blessings of Christ but do not want to have to change anything in themselves. Jesus warned against this attitude. “No man,” said Jesus, “can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). But many try and so become the enemies of God (James 4:4). What a burden to carry around!
One great weight that many Christians bear and may not even be aware of it is the weight that held back the people to whom Paul wrote, namely the sin of unbelief! Prior to the text above, in chapter eleven, Paul had just described great men and women of faith and their actions. Beginning chapter twelve he said we are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses, meaning these men and women of faith. Those to whom Paul wrote were experiencing a bout of unbelief (e.g., Heb. 3:12, 19; 4:1-6). Far too often we have too little faith. Was this not a favorite expression of our Lord describing the mentality of His disciples (Matt. 6:30; 8:20; 14:30; 16:8)? If we just had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, we could move mountains (Matt. 17:20). But alas, we carry the burden of doubt. Lord, increase our faith (Luke 17:5)! Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:24)!
Yes, I’ve got a lot of weight to lose this coming year! I better get started.
Eric L. Padgett