Not long after I wrote my last post on a few verses from Hebrews 12, Pastor Keith Vaughan wrote a post covering the same passage on his excellent blog. It was so perfectly timed and such a gorgeous bit of truth that I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!
Getting Rid of the Weight
-By Keith Vaughan
“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 ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
“Hey Pastor…Are you going to get on my case about the little bit of extra weight I’m carrying? I’ve tried to get rid of it, but nothing seems to work.”
Well…I am going to talk about extra weight — but not the kind you might think. In the same way you shed a few pounds, you must also put forth the spiritual effort to get rid of the extra weight you are carrying around in your spiritual life. The “weight” we need to lay aside might be sinful or, in some cases, they may be legitimate activities. There are some things we need to give up not because they are harmful within themselves, but because they are keeping us from serving God and being obedient to what He wants for us.
Let me suggest 4 things you and I need to examine in our lives today. Maybe some of these things are hindering you in your service to the Lord and need to be set aside.
1. We need to lay aside the weight of spiritual immaturity. In a few short days (we hope) — my son and daughter-in-law will welcome a new baby into this world. Hudson Keith Vaughan will be born and begin his journey on this earth. I certainly don’t expect him to come home a have a steak and baked potato with me right away. He’s going to need milk and eventually baby food BUT ONE DAY — he will sit down with his Poppa and have a steak!
A baby is supposed to act like a baby — but if that baby is still acting like a baby at 10 or 12 years old, then we know something is terribly wrong.
The same is true in the life of a Christian. One of the great tragedies that I see in the modern church is the number of people who remain spiritual babies and never give themselves to a discipline of growth and training that makes it possible for them to be used mightily by the Lord.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible says this about Jesus Christ…
“Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
There is nothing wrong with being a baby Christian — but there is something terribly wrong if you REMAIN a baby Christian. Lay aside the weight of spiritual immaturity.
2. We need to lay aside the weight of self-righteousness We all have been guilty of looking around us with a critical spirit and patting ourselves on the back for our achievements when we look at the perceived failures of others. It’s “funny” to me how Christians criticize EACH OTHER! I continually hear folks say (both in word and deed) — “I’ve figured it out and you haven’t.” Whether we are criticizing a non-Christian or criticizing the church — our sinful nature causes us to look at ourselves and pridefully declare — “I’ve got it. You don’t get it.”
Read the parable of the publican and the Pharisee in Luke 18 again. You will quickly see there is no room in the Christian life for a self-righteous attitude — either toward the lost world or toward fellow believers who may not jump on our bandwagon.
In Revelation 3, the problem in the Laodicean church was primarily an attitude of spiritual self-satisfaction. As Christians, we must NEVER allow ourselves to become a pious self-centered circle of people who come together for emotional “self-edification.”
3. We need to lay aside the weight of unforgiveness. You know what I’ve learned in 30 years of pastoral ministry? Here it is — write it down…
You cannot please everybody!
There is no way to escape criticism. There will be times when others will deliberately seek to hurt us in some way or another. Do you know what Jesus said we should do?
“Yes, Pastor. I know…but I’ll tell you right now…I don’t like it.”
Let me tell you why it is so hard to forgive. As long as all your attention is directed toward the person who needs to be forgiven, you will never understand and appreciate what Jesus taught us about forgiveness. Jesus’ primary concern was the effect of an unforgiving spirit in the life of a believer. Hard feelings have a way of festering into hatred. Hatred destroys joy and robs you of true happiness. Our hostile feelings do more injury to US than they ever do to the person who offended us. You cannot life an effective Christian life and carry a grudge at the same time. It’s impossible.
4. We must lay aside the weight of worry Undue anxiety and worry is caused by a lack of faith. Worry is USELESS! Matthew 6:27 says, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”
There is no need to worry about yesterday — you can’t change it.
There is no need to worry about today — you won’t accomplish anything of any value.
There is no need to worry about tomorrow — you aren’t even promised there will be a tomorrow!
I’m sorry I can’t help you drop the excess pounds you may need to drop in your physical body — I have my own problem with that! But I do pray that these suggestions will help us drop the excess weight we may be carrying around in our spiritual lives.