Self-Improvement Stew Thursdays: When to Toss Away Baggage on Our Spiritual Journey
I read the story of a woman who had finished shopping and returned to her car. She found four men inside the ca the r. She dropped her shopping bags, drew a handgun and screamed, “I have a gun and I know how to use it! Get out of the car.” Those men did not wait for a second invitation; they got out and ran like crazy.
The woman somewhat shaken, loaded her shopping bags and then got into the car. But no matter how she tried, she could not get her key into the ignition. Then it dawned on her; her car was parked four or five spaces away! She loaded her grocery bags into her own car and then drove to the police station to turn herself in. The desk sergeant to whom she told the story nearly fell of his chair laughing. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four men were reporting a carjacking by an old woman with thick glasses, curly white hair, less than five feet tall and carrying a large handgun. No charges were filed.
You see, she thought it was her car, but it actually belonged to someone else. We think our lives are our own, but they really belong to God and He has a “race marked out for us.” 1
Our Lives Belong to God, We Need to Prioritize Based on His Plans…
For us to run this race with endurance, one of the essential things we must do is to, “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”
To run effectively and enduringly, we must lighten the load in our life by getting rid of any baggage that will slow us down or cause us to sit out. Typically, we read a verse like this and focus on the “sin that so easily entangles.” And rightly so, because sin will drag you down. Sin is a destroyer of your relationship with God. It is an emotional depressant, it causes your prayers to go unanswered, it is destructive to those around you and it will blind you to what is healthy, right and good for your life.
But even though every sin is a hindrance, not every hindrance is a sin. And I don’t want us to miss what may be some of the most common hindrances of all.
When it says, “everything that hinders” the word which sometimes is translated “weight” simply means a mass or bulk of something. This is referring to a heaviness that impedes progress. The mental picture is easy to grasp. Visualize a race, picture the Olympics where the runners are lined up waiting for the starting gun to go off. How do they look? What are they carrying with them? Well, nothing you say – that wouldn’t make any sense. Okay. What are they wearing? Well, they are wearing very little. Why? They want to rid themselves of any extra weight, anything that will slow them down.
Now, let me ask you this. Is it wrong to wear a full outfit of clothing? Slacks, a nice shirt, belt, socks, shoes? Anything wrong with that? No! Well, then if it’s not wrong, it’s okay to do, why don’t the runners dress like that? Because their objective is to run and win. Even though there is nothing wrong with being fully dressed it doesn’t help them achieve their purpose of running well.
That’s the point of “throwing off everything that hinders.” It’s not saying what you need to “throw off” is wrong, it may be perfectly fine in itself, but it is occupying too much of your life and holding you back from running the race God has for you.
What I’ve come to learn is that the only way you know if it is a hindrance, is if it is a weight that’s holding you back from running. In other words, if you are a spectator than the extra weight you are carrying doesn’t bother you. You may feel a little tired in the normal routine of life, you may wish you didn’t have so much “heaviness” in your life, but you function with the weight. But when you start to run, you know you need to do something. You need to get rid of excess baggage. Let’s take time to evaluate what the extra baggage looks like in our lives and strip down to the essentials that take us down God’s path.
- Greg Laurie, “Our Lives Belong to God,” Preaching Today, “A Time to Worship,”, November 2001, accessed February 28, 2017, http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2002/january/13462.html.
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