Throwing Off Every Weight
Author: Andy Robbins
Have you ever had the chance to examine an Indy car? One thing that becomes immediately obvious is that there are no amenities on a race car. No cup holders, no air conditioners, no stereo systems, no glove box, and no GPS systems. Those cars are stripped down to only what is required for optimum speed. And, boy, do they ever go fast!
Now, apply that principle of aerodynamics to our spiritual lives. The book of Hebrews addresses it.
“…Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” -Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)
Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have weights; things that may not be wrong in and of themselves, but things which impede our progress, that slow us down, which put drag on our spiritual lives and prevent us from advancing in our life of faith.
This is something we have been addressing in our home recently. Three of us, in fact, have become quite enamored with blogging. And you know what? One can literally spend hours doing it if not careful. Hannah, in fact, LOVES blogging, and it seems that people love reading her blog. But she was getting to the point that she was spending an unreasonable amount of time doing it, so I had to lay down a rule that she could only blog three days out of the week, and even then there would be a time limit.
Luke’s weight is not so much blogging, although he does maintain his own little blog. His is more sports related, and he would literally spend all day in front of the TV playing Madden if I let him. I have had to restrict his use of video games, because those things can become little gods and choke out our dearest affection, which should be our seeking after God.
My weight is a literal weight. In other words, weight training has been a problem of mine in the past. There’s nothing wrong with staying in shape, but before I came to Christ I spent as many as 12 hours per week in the gym, and my entire day revolved around my eating and exercise schedule. I LOVED exercising, and still do. But it had become an idol to me. So I felt compelled several years ago to lay it down entirely. I gave up weight training for six months, which in my case was enough time for the addiction to break. Only later was I able to take it up again with moderation being the rule of the day. Today, I don’t exercise in a gym at all. It takes too much time. I have instead accumulated a number of exercise pieces in my basement, and while not as sophisticated as commercial gym equipment, I am nevertheless able to stay in reasonably good shape with not a lot of investment of time.
In our age of technological wonders and entertainment galore, there are a multitude of weights clamoring for our attention. Some are not wrong in themselves if kept in moderation. But therein lies the problem. Some can be quite addicting, and even when not over-indulged, there are still so many little things vying for our time that often our schedules are crammed with little things that choke out our affection for our Savior.
TV, movies, internet, e-mail, blogging, knitting, exercise, parties, church activities, and on and on it goes. Most troubling is the trend of many modern churches toward multiple services throughout the week. There’s youth group, choir practice, men’s meetings, women’s meetings, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, Wednesday night service, prayer night, etc. And, of course, if you are really “committed,” you should be at every meeting. So just where are we supposed to fit in family time anyway? Where are we supposed to fit in our own private Bible study, prayer, and community outreach and acts of service? We Christians can get to the point where we don’t see the forest for the trees. God doesn’t care about meetings as much as He cares about true relationship with His people, and you can’t develop a meaningful relationship with God without significant private time with Him.
Allow me to make a strong statement. Most modern day American Christians are spiritual wimps, and compared to our brethren overseas in Third World countries, I would have to include myself in that analysis. The fact is, most of us are starving to death spiritually because we gorge ourselves on empty calories.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “overweight but underfed?” It refers to people who subsist off of calorie-rich, nutrient-depleted junk food, which results in people who get more calories than their bodies can handle, but who have nutrient deficiency diseases like osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, etc. It’s a syndrome caused by eating only fun food-stuff, but not feeding one’s self what will truly nourish.
That’s what happens spiritually as well. Our days are smothered in activity, and much of what we do seems spiritual (i.e. going to multiple church meetings), but we rarely take the time to be alone with God and hear from Him. We don’t get up early enough to have a quiet hour alone with our Savior just poring over His Word and going to Him in worship and prayer like Jesus modeled for us. I believe that we who are serious about spiritual growth and walking in God’s best must make some difficult decisions and prune the “good” in favor of the “best.” It’s time to downsize in order to grow. That, after all, is what a farmer of a vineyard does. He will prune away the excesses of the vine in order to allow for further growth of the fruit in the long run. Spiritual growth is no different. We must prune away that which is weighing us down and preventing fruitfulness.
I have to close by bragging on my wife a little. I have been proud of Donna, especially recently, because she is tenacious about her time with God. There are things she has had to sacrifice in order to achieve this, and our house is not as tidy as we both would like. But I am seeing a new passion, a new surge of growth, and a new level of faith in Donna’s life, and it inspires me.
For me, private time with God became a daily habit many years ago, but recently my time with God is not so much ritual as it is relationship. There has been a new sense of closeness to God since having closed myself in my closet – literally – to commune with God in the quiet and undistracted surroundings. And there’s nothing quite like being closer to Him. He is worth pursuing. As Hebrews 11:6 says, He is a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him, and as Jeremiah 29:12 says, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” And that kind of seeking takes time and effort.