I am sure, like me that you’ve never seen a marathon runner enter a serious race dressed in a heavy raincoat, workman’s jeans, and a pair of hobnail boots. Given the length of a marathon is 26 miles, given the enormous strain the body will encounter in the thick of the competition, anything that adds weight and drag makes no sense whatsoever. Optimum performance requires the runner travel light. Anything that creates resistance is working against the best interest of the athlete. That is why in ancient times Greek athletes in many cases ran naked. Not only did they shed body fat in preparation for the race, they also discarded clothing that would inhibit their movement. Anything to shave a couple of minutes off their time or to give them the competitive edge! Ancient runners like modern competitors, worked hard at being lean and mean!
This is this image that captures the imagination of the writer to the Hebrews as he urges his readers to patiently run the race of faith by laying aside every weight and sin that gets in the way of spiritual victory (Hebrews 12:1-2). The Christian in pursuit of Christ and spiritual excellence will constantly need to push aside things in life that will either entangle or entrap him. The reality is that Christians can get entangled in things that are not necessarily bad in themselves, but are not the best use of their time or energy. Or the Christian can get entrapped in things that have no redeeming quality. The former is a weight, while the latter is a sin, yet both are to be jettisoned.
In light of the weight, the Christian must get rid of the good that can become bad. Weight in distinction from sin is something in our lives that is not bad in and of itself, but can work against what is most important. In life, our choices are not always between what is good and what is bad, but between what is good and what is best. The apostle Paul said, “All things are lawful but not all things are expedient” (1 Cor. 10:23). Just because something is not a sin does not make it right for us. Just because you have a liberty does not mean you should automatically exercise it. Athletes exercise discipline by saying no to certain things so that can say yes to their best chance of winning, and so must we in the race toward godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8). Remember, good things such as entertainment, sports, politics, hobbies, or retirement plans can become hindrances in our walk with God if they keep us from the best things!
In light of the sin, the Christian must get rid of the bad that can never become good. While there are things we voluntarily choose not to do, there are also things that we must never do. For instance violating the Ten Commandments or behavior dominated by our unredeemed flesh (Ex. 20:1-17; Gal. 5:19-21). And among these are besetting sins! These are the sins that attract us and ensnare us the most; these perhaps are the prevailing sins of our past, or the prevailing sins of society.
Listen! Pursuing Christ sometimes means side stepping the lawful, but it always means running from the unlawful! Whether it is a good bad thing or a bad thing get rid of it!