Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
Lay Aside Every Weight
The Bible is clear that there are things in our lives that are contrary to what God has for us. Sins and Weights. Sins are overtly opposed to Scriptural commands and keep us from walking in step with the Spirit by leading us to love other things more than Jesus.
But Hebrews also says to lay aside something called weights. Weights are things that are not explicitly sinful, but they do weigh us down. Weights are things that fall into the “It Depends” category. They are not sinful in and of themselves, but for a particular point in life, they are not helpful for our spiritual health.
Weights keep us from the joy Jesus has set before us.
Along with repenting of sin, developing a lifestyle of throwing off weights is monumental for our spiritual growth.
Problem: We Really Struggle to Say “No” to Ourselves
We have a problem when it comes to obeying this command to lay aside weights because we exist in a culture where saying, “no” to yourself isn’t trained because it isn’t seen as valuable.
So, our “say-no-to-self” muscles are extremely weak. They have atrophied so much that they can almost become non-existent, and when it becomes necessary for us to lay aside weights or sin, we can’t.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul tells the Church in Corinth that all things not explicitly called sin are lawful for them, but not all of them are helpful. He continues in 1 Corinthians 10:23 by saying not all things build up. He’s telling them that they are asking the wrong question and that their focus is off. Instead of focusing on what is technically permissible, Paul challenges us to ask, “What might be helpful for me to lay aside in order to run the race set before me?”
An Unexpected Help
Jesus gives us the perfect tool to help us build up our “say-no-to-self” muscle: the spiritual discipline of fasting.
Our default response to fasting usually is, “Why? Why would I do that?” That response is clear proof that our culture has no category for “telling ourselves no” being a good thing.
The purpose of fasting is to draw your heart toward God and reinforce that He is what we ultimately need. By learning how to intentionally say, “no” to smaller things like a meal, we can grow the muscles we need to say, “no” to bigger things like weights, or sin.
Spend some time this week asking the Holy Spirit to help you identify weights in your life. Consider participating in Lent this year or simply choose a weight in your life to abstain from in order to build up your “say-no-to-self” muscles.