Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that God wants us to “throw off everything that hinders.” I remember my days as a competitive runner. If I forgot to take off my jewelry, or wore the wrong socks, or my hair wasn’t off my neck, I had a hard time focusing on the goal of winning. I was hindered by these items and had to get rid of the problem before I could run efficiently and focused. Running the Christian race should be the same, as the Apostle Paul tells us in these verses, but we don’t always approach it with the same urgency.
What if we did throw off anything that hinders our walk as a Christ-follower? What would it look like if we recognized our unhealthy habits and emotional insecurities and immediately began efforts to shed ourselves of those hindrances? Why don’t we do this automatically? Perhaps its because we think we have to do this work on our own. We try to power our way through difficult issues and are almost never successful. But Paul tells this community that we have two good sources of power to rid ourselves of sin and bad habits. One is the “great cloud of witnesses.” These are the folks who have gone before us, and now cheer us on in our race. Our cloud of witnesses may be cheering from heaven, or from our family tree, or from our neighborhoods and communities. I suggest we all have a cloud of witnesses in our corner, but we don’t seek them out.
The other key to shedding our destructive ways is to “fix our eyes on Jesus.” In focusing on Jesus, we see how we can be and should be. And we are empowered by the same Spirit that gave Jesus power to endure the cross. In relying on our community of supporters, focusing on Christ and gaining power from the Holy Spirit, we can run the race without growing weary or losing heart. And as we run, we can shed that stuff that hinders us, growing in the likeness and mind of Christ.
What hinders you on your Christian journey? How will you throw off that unnecessary baggage?
God, I commit my way to you. I am ready to follow your call, no matter the direction. Guide me with your Spirit and give me courage to follow you closely. May I continue to grow in my trust and faith in you, oh Lord. You are my rock and my redeemer. Thank you for loving me so. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.