I’ve never spent a lot of time on end of the year reflections and beginning of the year resolutions. I have always found it difficult to find the time for that kind of reflection during the busiest time of the year. But this year has been different. God has used a familiar passage of Scripture to put one consuming question in my mind. A question that has led me to both reflect and resolve to make the New Year I am entering better than the one I am leaving behind.
The familiar passage of Scripture is Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
The one consuming question is this: What weights do I need to shed to run faster and farther in this new year?
I want to run faster in 2016. I want to run farther in 2016. I want to do greater things for the kingdom. I want to love God more, love my family more, and love my church more. I want to lead more people to trust and follow Christ. I want to seek first the kingdom and his righteousness like never before. There is a longing in my heart, as I am sure there is in yours, to be more faithful and more effective in this coming year. But it is difficult to run faster and farther in a new year if we are carrying the same weights that have been holding us back this past year.
This is not an unfamiliar concept. At this time of year almost everyone is thinking about shedding weight. But the extra few pounds we gained last year might not be the only unwanted weights we picked up. Likely, throughout the past year, we have all picked up some habits, some attitudes, some thoughts, some guilt, some shame, and some insecurities. These are weights that are clinging closely and holding us back. It might actually be that you need to shed some physical weight in order to be more effective. But don’t neglect to look at the emotional, mental, and spiritual weights you might have gained. We all have them. The question is: will you take them into next year with you, or leave them behind?
Spend the next few days asking the Lord to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that you might be able to see the extra weights in your life. Have this conversation with those around you and humbly ask them if they see any weights in your life that should be removed. Ask the Lord to give you the ability to see these weights, the courage to deal with them, and the power to overcome them. Look to Jesus. Trust in Him and the sanctifying power of the Gospel. Remember that Christ understands your weakness and is waiting for you to draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help help in your time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). Draw near to Him and allow him to reveal and remove anything that is hindering you from making progress. For the sake of your own soul, the sake of the Kingdom, the sake of your family, and for the sake of the church, shed some weight so that you might run with endurance the race that God has set before you.
J. Josh Smith