Helping or Hindering?

Mar 26, 2012 / Comments (0) / Written by Misty Foster

Every spring when the time changes, I anxiously await the warmer days and nights which allow me the opportunity to walk after work. I love to get out with worship in my ears and nothing but me and the fresh air. I am usually lax about my jogging routine in the winter months, so I have to ease myself back into it. This spring, I decided I was going to set a timeframe for just walking and then work my way into running. I also determined to use the ankle weights I have neglected for the past few years. My mom wore ankle weights for years. You would find her wearing them not just when she exercised, but as she worked around the house cleaning or cooking, as she worked in the yard, or just when she was out and about running errands. Eventually, she would say she forgot they were there. Her body became accustomed to the additional weight, and because of it, her legs grew stronger.

This year in hopes of strengthening my legs for running, I decided to wear the weights on my walking route. The first time didn't go as planned. I was noticeably slower than usual, I was slightly more winded, and I felt like my gait was jerky and clumsy -- like a puppet on a string. I had to stop constantly to adjust the straps from digging into my ankles, to adjust the height because they were leaning awkwardly, or to adjust my pants around them. Each time I adjusted and started out again, my gait was even more off. It was taking me longer to get through my walking route than usual and, by halfway through, I had stopped several times. As I stopped for the fifth or sixth time, trying to figure out what was wrong, the thought occurred to me, Are these even helping me or are they hindering me? It was then I thought about Paul's verse in Hebrews 12: "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (v. 1). That verse came to life as I stood on the side of the road fighting with my right ankle weight.

Paul knew sin would weigh down believers and cause them to stumble, slow down, or give up all together. He knew it could cause us to be off course, with an awkward gait which makes us feel like we are getting nowhere. He would tell the Galatians, "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh...Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,  idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,  envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God'' (Gal. 16, 19-21). Paul knew the damage sin could do to our walk with Christ. He instructs us to walk and then tells us we have to cast off the things of the flesh or our walk won't be easy it will be a war. He knew the things causing our flesh to fail are far heavier than we can bear to carry.

As I stood on the sidewalk, I completely understood his instruction. If I took the weights off then I could find my regular pace and be unhindered in my journey. So many times we step into sin thinking it won't hinder us. We tell ourselves it will be easy and it's just a little fun: That flirtation in the office isn't hurting either of our spouses, the inappropriate show with vulgarity and scantily clad people running around engaging in promiscuous sex is hilarious, that little white lie won't hurt anyone, and neither will the bigger one I'm about to tell. We lie to ourselves and cause our "flesh to lust against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh" (Gal. 5:17). We trip ourselves up with just enough compromise to throw off our walk and slow us down: just one night partying with my friends won't stumble me. Just one juicy bit of gossip against the co-worker no one likes will get me friends, those dirty jokes or foul language make me part of the crowd. So what if I put my boyfriend before Christ, he loves me and we're getting married, God will understand. They're all lies that can cause us to stumble, trip, or worse, completely crash and burn.

One thing I love about the Bible is it usually doesn't tell us to remove something without telling us what to replace it with. Paul goes on to tell the Galatians what we should cultivate: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal. 5:22-25). Paul tells us how to walk unhindered; these are the things we can carry because they strengthen us. Just as my mom's weights strengthened her legs and she became accustomed to them, we too can get accustomed to carrying godly behavior and traits, which in turn will strengthen us for the walk ahead.

While it's clear in the Scripture sin is a weight which will slow us down, cause us to stumble, or give up our walk completely, it's also clear God gives us other things to help us to grow stronger, have sure footing, and strive harder. With His guidance we move forward, step by step.

What sin is slowing you down today? Cast it off and you will find freedom in Christ. I guarantee you will never regret being free to run the race God has set before you. Run it without hindrance and see what He can do.

Misty Foster


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