Every parent has probably heard the question from their child, “Do I have to?” While the question can simply be an inquiry of the necessity of doing a thing, it more often reflects the attitude of wanting to get by with doing as little as is possible. The Bible teaches us that this attitude is not the attitude of the Christian in his race of faith.
In chapter 12 when the Hebrew writer speaks of the Christian needing to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (verse 1), he instructs us to not only lay aside “the sin which so easily ensnares us” but to “lay aside every weight.” A weight is an encumbrance, a burden that will slow our progress in the race of faith. It will make our running more difficult, and if not laid aside, it will weaken our endurance and result in our not finishing the race.
Weights can include cares, riches, pleasures, and desires for other things. Consider the parable of the sower and the thorny soil in Luke 8:14. What is a weight for me may not be a weight for you; we must each honestly examine ourselves and take action to rid ourselves of every weight.
In a race, no athlete would carry weights that could hinder his ability to finish the race and win the prize. In other words, he would not have an attitude of “do I have to?” but would gladly cast aside any weight that would slow him. Likewise, we should gladly desire to lay aside every weight that slows, hinders, or impedes our growth in faith, and that is the opposite of a “do I have to?” or minimalist attitude.
Laying aside every weight is part of our striving to excel, and the Christian’s attitude must include a desire to excel: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11).
Remember, not all are crowned in a race; one must win a race to be crowned. In the race of faith, all who are faithful unto death are winners who will be crowned, but this means the race must be finished, and Christians must “run in a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
The point is this: In order to successfully run the race and finish the race to receive the crown, we must examine ourselves and lay aside every weight that hinders our race.