Spiritual Weight Watchers

The statisticians tell us that the majority of Americans are overweight. This is no surprise since many spend most of their day sitting behind a desk, or in front of the TV. Add to this a steady diet of fast-foods, and you have the perfect formula for being overweight.

Many Christians are not only physically overweight, but spiritually overweight as well. This excess spiritual weight limits their ability to make progress in the race of faith that is set before them. The writer to the Hebrews speaks of this when he says, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”(Heb. 12:1)

Those to whom he was writing had made professions of faith in the Jesus Christ, but some of them were considering turning back to Judaism. There were two things, among others, which tempted them to return. These were “comfort” and “ceremony.”

Since they were suffering persecution from family members and former friends, returning would do away with the persecution and bring desired comfort. In addition, Judaism was a visible religion. It had the temple, the priests, and the sacrifices, while Christianity had none of these. Many professing Christians are drawn by these same things today. The comfort and ceremony of a big church, as compared to the small, and often belittled small group of believers who attempt to be obedient to God’s Word. (Rev. 3:8)

The writer of Hebrews goes to great length to show his readers that in Christ they have One Who is far superior to Judaism, and that they would need to live by faith, taking God at His Word concerning the blessings that were yet future. To encourage them in their faith, a “cloud of witnesses” is given in chapter 11. These were those who had gone before them and had exercised faith in God’s promises, despite great opposition. They had run the race to the end, even though they did not receive the promises. (Heb. 11:39)

In chapter 12 they are encouraged to press on in the race which they began when they came to Christ. They were to cast off any weights that would hold them back, and any sin that would entangle them, making running an impossibility. They were to keep their eyes on Jesus in glory, the One Who perfectly finished what He began, enduring the cross, counting as nothing man’s mockings and hatred.

Now the question is, “What are weights for us today?”   Weights are those things that keep us earthbound. Things that slow us down in our progress toward our heavenly home, that turn our eyes away from a risen Lord in glory, and make us feel at home in this world. That which makes us forget that this world is headed for judgment, and that our citizenship is in heaven. (Phil. 3:20)  Those things that cause us to forget that we are pilgrims and strangers in this world.  Strangers because this is not our land, and pilgrims because we are going to another.

God warned Israel on a number of occasions that when they were “fat” they would forget Him. (Deut. 32:15) So it is with many of His saints today. (Rev. 3:17) Prosperity has caused many to be spiritually overweight. Weighed down by the drive for success, the desire to be comfortable, and the false security that riches bring, many have settled down in this world, forgetting about running the race of faith. A race that should cause us to trim down, casting off the weights of this world of sight and sound.

Just as with physical weight, spiritual weight has a way of sneaking up on us. It has been wisely said, “We do not notice excess weight while we are standing still.”  It is when we attempt to make progress that the weight becomes noticeable! It is when we attempt to live with eternity in view that we find we are weighed down by the things of this world. How many of the Lord’s people are unable to exercise their spiritual gifts and serve the Lord and His people because they “mind earthly things.” (Phil. 3:19)  Like Lot and Demas, they have settled down in this present world (Gen. 14:12; 2  Tim.4:10) Not this present “evil world,” but this “present world,” as compared to “the world to come.” (Mk. 10:30)

May we be “spiritual weight watchers,” free to run without weights towards heaven. (2 Cor. 5:7)