Jump Start # 3079
Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
What challenging words our passage brings to us today. I especially like the “E” words: Every Encumbrance; Easily Entangles; and, Endurance. Those three “E” words make all the difference. They determine how close we walk with the Lord. They determine the shape of our character and the impact we can have upon others. Three words—all starting with “E.”
ENCUMBRANCE: Others translate this word as: weight (KJV/ESV); hinders (Phillips; NIV); extra baggage (CEB). You get the idea. These are things that slow you down. These are things that are heavy and not necessary. We understand this when packing for a trip. You can’t take the whole house. You stuff as much as you can, anticipating all kinds of weather on your trip and then the rest has to be left behind. I read a post the other day by minimalist, who claimed that a person only needs to own two bath towels. Don’t think that would work in our house. We had the kids and grandkids the other day and we went through all kinds of towels.
Here in our passage, Encumbrance, are things that are going to slow me down on my journey with the Lord. They are getting in the way. They are not necessary. The inspired writer is not talking about towels, luggage or the stuff that we own. He is talking about the stuff that owns us. The stuff that is in our hearts. These encumbrances makes us weary and tired. The journey seems longer because of these things. So what might these things be? Keeping up with everyone’s problems, being absorbed with politics and news, being obsessed with sports, trying to run everyone’s lives, trying to solve every problem—those are the things that will wear you out. So, you don’t have to live on social media. You don’t have to watch the news every night. You don’t have to jump into every problem.
These Encumbrances can be laid aside. This is a choice we have. These are not things that are beyond our control. Lay them down and notice the calm and peace that comes over you. Lay them down and notice how optimism fills your heart. Lay them down and lift up prayers to the Lord. These encumbrances are not necessarily wrong things, but they are heavy things. They weigh heavy on our hearts. Wars, economy, politics, co-workers, neighbors, even family members can be something that we feel obligated to be involved in. Not so. You can’t change another adult. Lay them aside.
EASILY ENTANGLED SINS: Sin will do that. It will wrap us up and before long we are all tied up and can’t get out. It’s like trying to straighten up an extension cord or those old Christmas tree lights. What a mess. And, the sin that seems so fun and exciting, soon wraps us up and traps us. And, what the writer is warning us is that sin does this so easily. Before we ever realized it, we are all tied up. A little flirting leads to a sexual affair and now hearts are all confused, families are at stake and one’s reputation is falling apart. How did it happen so quickly? Or, as our verse says, “so easily.” A little dishonesty on the books and here comes an audit from the IRS or getting fired from your job. How did that happen?
Just as the encumbrance is to be laid aside, so is sin. Interestingly, the passage states, “the sin.” Was there something specific that the writer had in mind? These Hebrew Christians were turning their backs on Jesus and wanting to go back to Judaism. Life was less complicated and a whole lot safer as Jews than as Christians. This book drives at the folly of such thinking. Jesus is superior in all ways to what was under the old system. Lay aside the sin. Don’t get tangled up in it. Don’t let this sin trip you. Don’t let it tie you up and you lose Jesus.
ENDURANCE: run with endurance. Later in this context we are reminded that Jesus had endurance. He endured the cross. He endured hostility. He endured the ugliness of life. He endured Satan. Our journey with Jesus is not a Sunday thing. This journey requires endurance. It requires laying aside things. It requires keeping on when it’s hard to keep on. It requires going when others have stopped. It requires staying with it when the voice of culture says you don’t have to do that. Paul would say that he had “finished the course.” Many start, few finish. Many want to finish, but few do. Many hoped to, but they didn’t do it. Endurance. Run that way. I’m not a runner, but I know many who are. Long races are not completed in the first 100 yards. Burning out early means one won’t finish. Not training well means one won’t finish. Not keeping fluids in you means you won’t finish. Not wearing the right shoes means you won’t finish. Endurance—a person has to have the mindset that this is a journey of a lifetime. Similar to a marriage, there are ups and downs, good days and not so good days. Some plan for a great wedding and forget that there is a marriage that is to be lived after that. The same goes with baptism. Some get excited to be baptized but forget that there is a discipleship with Jesus that is to follow.
Endure. Some days will be hard. Some days will be a breeze. Some days it seems the road is all up hill. Some days it seems that you travel alone. Some days you feel like you can walk on water. Stay with it. Stay with it for a lifetime.
Three “E” words– Encumbrance…Entangled…Endurance.