Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1
Lean food rations, waterproof boots, and a map are some of the essentials carried by hikers on the John Muir Trail. The John Muir Trail is a 211-mile path in the western United States that winds across creeks, around lakes and woods, and up and over mountains, encompassing 47,000 feet of elevation gain. Because traversing this trail takes about three weeks, carrying the right amount of supplies is critical. Too much and you will run out of strength to carry it all; too little and you won’t have what you need for the journey.
Finishing well on our journey as believers in Jesus also requires careful consideration of what we bring. In Hebrews 12, we’re told to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” The author compares our lives to a “race marked out for us,” one in which we must “not grow weary and lose heart” (vv. 1, 3). To become overburdened with sin or distracted by things outside of God’s purpose for us is to carry an unnecessary weight.
Just as there are packing lists for the John Muir Trail, God has provided directions for following Jesus in the Bible. We can know what habits, dreams, and desires are worth bringing along by examining them in light of the Scriptures. When we travel light, we’re able to finish well.
What’s hindering you in following Jesus? What would it look like to “throw it off”?
Jesus, help me travel lightly according to Your wisdom and to finish well.
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The connective word therefore in Hebrews 12:1 reflects back on the author’s conviction that what God had revealed about Himself in the past has come to fullness of meaning in His Son (1:1–3). No angel, holy day, temple, or sacrifice can be compared to Jesus. He alone revealed the glory and goodness of His Father by exposing the sin and shame of the world fully and by forgiving it completely (1:4–10:22). “Therefore” the author would go on to urge readers to keep the faith that had already enabled them and many before them to endure hardship as a way of showing their faith in God (10:32–11:40). This was the moment to keep their eyes on Jesus who was leading them in selfless concern for others (12:2; 13:1–4). This was their moment to trust the One who assured them that He’d never leave them or forsake them (vv. 5–6).