In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey discusses the two natural reactions that people have when they are faced with stress…or a battle. The great majority of us will respond in two ways, either fight or flight.
Fighters will confront, reason, argue – put up their dukes – until the bitter end. Those who chose the flight option will avoid the conflict altogether, run away and hide, and pretend nothing ever happened. Oh…oh, how badly I wish that I was a person who opted the escape route. But, oh no…I am a fighter. My tendency is to fight for what I believe is right and true. But sometimes it only causes more dissension.
Is your tendency – to fight or flight? I think the correct response lies somewhere in between. It takes a great deal of discernment to know when our words will bring clarity and understanding, or when they will inspire a more intense battle.
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 entangles, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. – Hebrews 12:1
The most important race we will ever run is the race of life. We each have a purpose and a call – and we each have our own trail to blaze. The above verse from Hebrews tells us to get rid of the weights – the things that hold us back from advancing in the race that Jesus has set before us.
There are times we are called to speak up, take a stand, or even march for things that are right and good. And there are times when we need to leave the battleground and get back in our lane. It doesn’t mean that we are running away from the situation or the cause and running towards a life of selfishness. It means that we are no longer engaging in the battle…and we are going to turn our attention towards accomplishing the good that we have been called to do.
Weights are the things that cause us to stumble in the race for faith, love, strength, power, holiness, courage, and freedom.
Maybe you are weighed down by a dead end job or a situation in your workplace. Maybe you are grieving a dream that has died. Maybe it’s time to lay aside a relationship where you are stuck in a battle and going nowhere fast. Or maybe you simply need to lay aside the battle and try a different approach.
… And then there is the sin that so easily entangles. This is the sin that settles deep into our spirit. Any sin we cannot seem to conquer is the sin that entangles. It often starts small and it ends up tangling up our relationships and affecting almost every area of our lives. The sin that entangles is the hardest to lay aside and sometimes we don’t really want to.
Discouragement, doubt, anger, outrage, fear, and arguments can cause us to run with a limp. A critical spirit, being easily offended, needing to be right, being divisive, or holding grudges can knock us out of our lane. Pride, stubbornness, a hard heart, passing judgement, impatience, and needing to control will not only cause us to stumble but it can cause others to stumble as well. Addiction and sexual immorality will keep us from running free. Self-centered living will wear us out before we get there. And getting stuck in a battle will keep us from running at all.
If we desire to run the race, we need to lay aside our encumbrances. What are the sins that keep you from running? Look deep within and ask the question…”What is stopping me from running free?” Lay it aside. Lay it at the foot of the cross.
We need to realize that it’s not just a bad habit…but sin. Sin affects us deep in our souls and it will not stop unless we put a stop to it. The responsibility is ours as we yield to the Spirit asking not only for forgiveness…but for the strength to never pick up that weight again. That’s the stuff of real repentance.
We can make steps of commitment to start out a new pattern of life in which we will take the necessary strides to lay aside our weights. I can tell you from experience that it isn’t easy. It takes a humble and willing spirit in order to handle the truth about ourselves. But if we can…we will exchange our weights for the weight of His glory.
All history is waiting for every last saint to finish the race and enter the gates of heaven. Hebrews tells us that we are being watched by those who have gone before us – that great cloud of witnesses. I can almost hear them urging us forward, “Come on, you guys…get back in your lane. Drop the weights…you can do it!”