"Every Weight"

Hebrews 12:1  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Many have speculated as to the nature of what the apostle calls (Heb. 12:11Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)) "the sin which doth so easily beset us." I am persuaded it is not any special form of sin, although it is quite true that there are such things as besetting sins, and we are all concious of it. This however is more general. It is sin of whatever nature―all that can be called that―that we are enjoined to " lay aside," in the endeavor "to run with patience the race that is set before us.
The connection here is what is of so much practical importance, and it is missed perhaps by most who read the exhortation: it is this that to lay aside the sin that besets us, we must lay aside along with it the weights that impede us―" let us lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run."
It is as runners in a race that we are addressed. That is plainly the governing thought in the passage. And it is all important in a race, and especially a long-continued one, where endurance as well as energy is required, to be as lightly equipped as possible; hence " lay aside every weight' is the very first thing, and deserves the first attention. Nay, I doubt not, that the first thing will be found to involve the other, as I have said. If any one asks seriously, how shall I, how can I, lay aside the sin that besets me? He will find the answer practically in the other part of this, " lay aside every weight."
Not that " weight" and " sin are identical. It is the very fact that they are not, that helps to hide from many the real connection between them. The " weight " is a thing lawful enough to carry, if you look at it in itself merely. It belongs to that class of things of which the apostle writes: " All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." It is a thing lawful but not necessary, a thing I may let alone if I please, but I please to occupy myself with it. Nothing that is really duty for me to take up is properly a "weight." Nothing that I unnecessarily burden myself with, but I shall find one.
A Christian is a heavenly man upon the earth, a man taken out of the world, sent into it only on Another's business (John 17:1818As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (John 17:18)), He is a man in Christ, his place and portion being where Christ is; his treasure, and so his heart, there. On earth he is a pilgrim and stranger therefore, as a citizen of heaven, from whence he looks for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the meanwhile, therefore, while he seeks to be faithful in the things entrusted to him here, which are another's, the things which are his own, and take up his heart, are elsewhere. They are things unseen; substantiated to his soul by faith, things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor which have entered into man's heart naturally, but which God hath revealed to us by His Spirit. It is these with which of his own choice he occupies himself. Here is the line of things in which he desires to make progress. He wants to apprehend that for which he is apprehended of Christ Jesus; and, doing "one thing," concentrating his energies in one pursuit, he forgets that which is behind, and reaches forth unto those things which are before, pressing on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling (or rather the calling on high) of God in Christ Jesus.
This is the true, practical character of a Christian, described almost in the very words of Scripture, and it tells us at once why the thought of running a race should be so prominent in the passage in Hebrews, as well as other places. It is the occupation of the soul with what is outside the present scene that really gives ability to be in it aright, and separate from the evil which infects it. If my heart is really out side, it will be shown by my seeking (wherever the choice is left me) to occupy myself with what is outside, and to be as free as possible from all here that would engage and distract my thoughts. If for my own satisfaction I can occupy myself with it, this proves that what is my own does not satisfy me, and that things (which may be lawful enough in themselves) have already that " power " over rue, which the apostle dreaded for himself. Moreover by abandoning myself to their pursuit I increase that power, and, as they cannot possibly themselves satisfy me, I am more and more left to the misery of a craving which enslaves me more and more, and compels me to toil in the impracticable pursuit of good I cannot find. " Whose god is their belly," is the apostle's description of such: whereas for him who is in the pursuit of what is real and substantial good, " out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
This then is what is involved in the admonition to "lay aside every weight." It is only a soul intent on progress that will feel what a " weight" is. Such an one will feel it in proportion to the degree in which he is intent on it. And when things are felt as weights, it is easy to lay them aside; for it is the essence of a " weight " that it is something I choose to burden myself with.
Duties are never in themselves such, for whatever I take up for God, because He wills it, it is not my own heart choosing, and I can count on Him for all needed strength.
If then my heart is set upon the things beyond, and I lay aside every weight, everything that would hinder my occupation with and enjoyment of them, I shall surely find that in laying aside the weight I lay aside with it the sin which so easily besets me. For from whence does temptation come? Comes it not from the power of present things? And is not everyone practically " tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed?" Will not then a heart engaged and satisfied with what is elsewhere be the true remedy for this?
Fitly therefore does our text end, "looking unto Jesus, the Leader and Finisher of faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." This was the principle of the one perfect life of faith that ever was, and we cannot walk as He walked, unless we imitate Him in this. The man that is seeking to get on in the world, is doing manifestly what He never could do-is walking as He never did walk. Fellowship with Him is on this principle impossible. Our pathway and His have necessarily separated' What wonder if our joy in Him is gone, and our spiritual strength, of which that is the spring, be gone also? What wonder, if sin prevails against us?
There is no remedy, so long as we will not believe that the world is what it is, or that Christ is what He is for those that come to Him. "My people have committed two evils;" is the Divine complaint, " they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewn out to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which can hold no water (Jer. 2:1313For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)). " If any man thirst," is the invitation, "let him come unto Me and drink. He that believed' on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37,3837In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (John 7:37‑38)).