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Posted by Lisa Lewis Koster - - 5 comments

Recently I wrote a post about how a book of the Bible was patterned after the Olympic games, and another post focused on striving for strong finish. Today we'll look at what lies inbetween - running the race - as described in the center section of Hebrews 12:1.

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. ~ Hebrews 12:1

Photo courtesy of RGBStock.com and Jazza

In one of my all-time favorite books, Sparkling Gems from the Greek by Rick Renner", I discovered the phrase everything that hinders is derived from the Greek word ogkos – "a word that describes a burden or something so heavy or cumbersome that it impedes a runner from running a race as he should. This word was particularly used in the athletic world to signify the actions of an athlete who would deliberately strip himself of excess weight before participating in a competition."

The athlete not only dieted and exercised to lose body weight, but at the time of the competition he would also strip off nearly all his clothes. All of his focus was on the finish line and he wanted to ensure nothing would slow him down as he ran the race. 

What slows us down when it comes to running the Christian race? 

This verse tells us that it is sin, and that it's easy for us to get tangled up in it. We don't have to go looking for sin; it has no trouble finding us. But if we want to succeed, if we want to do something that matters, if we want to live a life pleasing to God, we need to rid ourselves of whatever sin may be weighing us down or tripping us up.

If you've ever tried to get physically fit, you know it doesn't happen by accident. I wasted months with half-hearted, painless attempts to fit back into my jeans, but to no avail. What I finally realized is something I knew deep-down all along - it takes deliberate effort and sacrifice to build muscle and lose weight. 

Likewise, putting forth a half-hearted effort in our Christian walk will get us nowhere fast. There is no coasting; we have an enemy, satan, who sees to that. We're either moving closer to God by making a concentrated effort to live a life pleasing to Him, or we're drifting away from God on the raft of sin satan constructs for us. There is no middle ground.

Unfortunately, "we all tolerate things in our lives that make it difficult for us to please God. And when we know we’re not pleasing God, we typically aren’t happy with ourselves either. This is one reason why this verse tells us to “throw off everything that hinders.” The words "throw off" are taken from the Greek apotithimi. It gives a picture of someone who is laying something down while at the same time he is pushing it far away and beyond reach." 

Unfortunately that's not what I did today. 

I've been faithfully counting calories and going to the gym, and the number on the scale has been creeping downward ever so slowly. As a result, I can put my jeans on! I can't move, but I can put them on! And yet, knowing I still have more work ahead of me, I went to the store today fully aware that the Valentine's Day merchandise would be marked down...

I'd like to say I blacked out and suddenly found myself in the car with a heart-shaped box of chocolates in my bag (did I mention they were on clearance?) but that's not what happened. I deliberately went to the store JUST to look at the holiday clearance (and did get a couple super-cute T-shirts for my grandsons super cheap!), which is exactly the opposite of pushing the temptation far away and beyond reach. Just walking into that store was setting myself up for failure. 

And no, I'm not very pleased with myself.

How often do we do this with our sin? We say we want to be rid of it, yet we place ourselves in situations where the odds are against us. Thankfully, God has a remedy. What we can't do in our own strength is possible when we submit ourselves to Him!

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23

What sin are you keeping at hand rather than pushing it far away?

Go to God, whether it's for the first time or the hundredth time, give it to Him and leave it there. Take your focus off your sin and place it on Him. As Him to help you conquer this obstacle hindering you rather than attempting to do it in your own strength.

Father, I thank you that you never grow weary of your children coming to you for help. Help us to remember that working in our own strength is an exercise in futility, for apart from you we can do nothing! Draw us in close to you every day and give us victory over this entangling sin by the power of your Holy Spirit.



5 Responses so far.

  1. Erica Tilma says:

    I so enjoy your blogs, I look every day for a new one. This one hit home as i know my vice that keeps me at a distance from God & takes a lot of my time & I'm giving it to God BUT also taking that temptation out & replacing it w/more time in his word & with my family. Thanks Lisa!!

  2. Unknown says:

    I've been known to hang onto my anger for too long, which often leads me to sin with my words. Plus, harboring ill will never makes for a fertile ground for loving others well.

  3. Yes throw off with a vengence all that hinders our race. Loved your story and also being able to fit into your jeans, but just can't move in them. LOL. Thank you for sharing with us here at "Tell Me a Story."

  4. Unknown says:

    Lisa, I love how you share your heart and personal stories with us. Why do they mark those chocolates down and then put them right up front to tempt us? ha. Way to go on the weight loss and fitting into your jeans. God is always there for us and we do need to make a habit of continually going to Him in constant dialog so we don't fall into temptation. Stopping in from Winsome Wednesday.

  5. Ren says:

    I love the Sparkling Gems book too!

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