Hebrew 12:1 calls us to “lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us…” As you take an inventory of your life carefully look at the encumbrances that hinder you from running well. Also what is the sin that so easily entangles you while you’re trying to run the race of life?

Notice that an encumbrance is not necessarily sinful but something inappropriate for the occasion. Example: eating a heavy meal before a race. Eating is not sinful in and of itself, but it surely becomes an encumbrance prior to a race.

A sin is a willful violation against God’s directives. It’s doing what I want to do regardless of what God says about the issue. Example, because of my envy of a better runner, I tear his/her character apart; or we know what God says about sexual immorality, yet we do not control our sexual appetite.

The passage’s instructions are very clear. We are to lay aside both, every encumbrance as well as the sin that so easily entangles us — no rationalization, no excuses, just lay them aside. This means acknowledging my limitations and weaknesses and not putting myself in situations that I cannot manage. It is my ability to say “NO,” not only to others but also to myself.

As you take an honest look at your encumbrances and sins, what are some areas of your life that you need to guard? Here are some examples:

  • Do you misuse your God given needs, like sex, hunger, acceptance, love? Do you justify your misuse with the statement “I can’t help it, I’m just a man/woman”?
  • As a man do you withdraw from your wife to the now popular “man cave” as a way to avoid dealing with a conflict?
  • In doing so, do you use silence as a way to express your anger and punish her?
  • As a woman do you use your emotions as a way to manipulate your husband?
  • Are you afraid to speak up, therefore allowing others to abuse you?
  • Are your “no’s” to others and to yourself strong enough to be respected?
  • If you know that pornography, alcohol, drugs or any other substance, activity or person are a temptation, what are you willing to do as a way of setting parameters that hold firm? Remember we don’t set boundaries for others – only for ourselves. It is my responsibility to keep them in good working order.
  • If anger is the sin that so easily entangles you, what are you willing to do to stop the damage you are causing to yourself and to others?
  • Do you say things such as “You make me angry”? Do you realize that you and you alone are responsible for your actions including your feelings and what you do with them?

In 1 Corinthians 10:13 &14, we are told, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee…”

What are some things you need to flee from?