Stripping Off Weights to Win the Race

     We can shed responsibilities to lighten our load as quickly as we strip off a sweater when we are too hot. It is reasonable to think resigning from a committee, stepping away from a place of service, or just saying “no” when asked for a favor is the weight that slows us down in the race God set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

     What do you think is meant by “lay aside every weight” or “throw off everything that hinders?” Not sure, I decided to do a little research.

     The Tony Evans Bible Commentary states the author of Hebrews was addressing spiritually immature Christians who were unwilling to grow through living by faith. He writes: “We need to jettison unbelief and anything in our lives that might trip us up spiritually and prevent us from running the race well all the way to the finish line.”1

     When we learn Scripture and are firmly persuaded God can accomplish all He promises, we proceed with confidence. We are no longer indecisive. In the past, I would train to run marathons and other types of physical running races. To make the distance, I learned techniques for sustaining my physical stamina such as drinking water along the way and carrying nutrition bars to eat during those energy slumps. I had faith in the advice of other experienced runners and put it into practice so I could finish the race well.

     F.F. Bruce writes in The International Bible Commentary the earliest known Greek manuscript of Hebrews uses the word euperispastos, which means ‘easily distracting.’ Later a slightly different Greek word replaced it, translated into English as “weight” or “hindrance.” This may refer to drifting, dullness, lack of spiritual exercise, or immaturity.2

     Physical activities may have to be eliminated to stop drifting… what keeps you from attending church, reading your Bible, setting aside time to pray for others? Has God’s Word become dull or are you interested in learning, excited to delve into a good Bible study that helps you dig deeper? Do you worship God? Can you explain the gospel message to an unbeliever? We can become easily distracted by the world and lay aside spiritual pursuits.

     In The Word for Today New Testament Study Guide, Chuck Smith writes: “God has a plan for each of our lives—the race that is set before us. We are to remove any weights and sins that would impede our progress or slow us down. Some activities are not sin, but they do encumber us and make the race more difficult.”3 Too much time on the golf course, growing our career, or pursuing a hobby?

     My conclusion is that there is no exact list I can write out. We all must remain vigilant, consistently examining our heart, our ways.

     We can look for signs of unbelief that might cause our faith to falter. Bruce writes the way to avoid distraction is to keep our eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). “As author, He himself participated in believing. He was controlled by faith not by sight.” He was perfecter “for all that faith hopes for finds its consummation in Him.”

     I think of the marathons I completed and how I sometimes had to push through to the end. Running 26.2 miles is not easy. Yet the goal to reach the finish line makes runners endure any pain or discomfort that might distract them, take them off course. Pinpoint the distractions and we may find those weights or hinderances we are to strip off.

Join the Conversation:

1-Have you studied this passage of Scripture? What do you think the author refers to by “weights or hinderances”?

2-Can you pinpoint a few distractions that might take us off course?


1-The Tony Evans Bible Commentary, by Tony Evans, published by Holman Bible Publishers in Nashville, Tennessee (2019).

2-The International Bible Commentary, by F.F. Bruce, published by Guideposts, Carmel, New York (1986).

3-New Testament Study Guide by Chuck Smith, published by Word for Today (2005).

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