“Throw off everything that hinders…” Hebrews 12:1
There is a word picture the writers are seeking to create here. Have you ever watched the Olympic runners just prior to an event? Though each one may have arrived in warm-up attire, each runner will quickly be rid of the extra weight and hindrance of the clothing when called to take their marks. At that point, the less clothing, the better, at least for a runner. In this word picture sin is likened to the baggage of the excess clothing. Sin weighs one down with regrets, and can entangle one’s life so that it becomes difficult to function as more than a conqueror (read Romans 8:31-39). In fact, one begins to think of oneself as a loser… a reject… a discarded piece of junk… a waste of DNA… only to experience the worst of the human experience called life.
The reader, though, is exhorted to live life as if running in a race. We are not to give up until we have completed the course. We are not to give-in to discouragement. We are not to give-up the possibility of actually finishing in such a way as to win the prize… coming in first place! How is one to accomplish such? We are to take our eyes off our sin… off our circumstances… off our defeats… off our shortcomings… off our inabilities… and fix our eyes on Christ, Who modeled for us the way to victorious living.
Jesus is described as the pioneer of our faith. He is the template. He is the mold into which we are to be conformed in our thinking and in our actions. Some translations describe Him as the Author of our faith, whispering one’s name into his/her heart of hearts, and drawing the searching soul to Himself where He breathes faith into each failing heart. He is also described as the Perfecter of faith. Jesus will not leave us alone to ‘figure it out’. No, He continues to reveal Himself into the life of a Believer as the Holy Spirit works to reveal both sin and the solution to sin’s problem… Jesus’ continuing power at work in the heart.
Jesus provided the life example to be followed: enduring opposition by sinners, as well as a tortuous death upon a cross (v.’s 2-3). On that cross, He became sin for us, that we would become the righteousness of God (read 2 Corinthians 5:21). The writers point out the reality of Christ followers not dealing with sin to the same degree Christ did – namely, through the shedding of blood (v.4). The rest of the chapter is used to expose the effects of sin on the mind and testimony of a Believer… even to the extent of hindering one’s prayer for others (v.13), as well as one’s worship (read v.’s 22-24).
The writers close with a warning to those who may be tempted to refuse the Lord’s discipline, describing a coming time when God’s voice will once again shake the heavens and the earth, so that what cannot be shaken will remain. (read v.’s 25-27) The reader is promised, “WE ARE RECEIVING A KINGDOM” that will not perish; and to direct one’s worship with awe, knowing “GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE”. (v.28) (I placed these phrases in bold print to acknowledge them as five understandable words.)
So, THROW OFF EVERYTHING THAT HINDERS, AND KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE… JESUS CHRIST, and an eternity of joy in His Kingdom.