For the last couple of weeks, I have been on a mission to clean out and get rid of unnecessary things!
This all began with a couple of “angels” coming over and completely deconstructing and reorganizing my closet. Who knew that there would be no use for those empty shoe boxes or bags of tangled phone cords?
Anyway, being able to find my clothes and shoes got me hooked, so I decided to clean out more and more closets! My sweet sister and amazing daughter came and helped. They both beautifully and effectively sorted, straightened and sifted all manner of stuff.
So interesting how throwing things away and simplifying gives you a sense of lightness and freedom, not to mention, the great benefit of knowing where things are!
This whole thing got me thinking about Hebrews 12:1
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 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,....”
I think Paul defines “the race” of for us perfectly in Philippians 3
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
“The excellence of the knowledge of Christ.” vs 8. Knowing Jesus is the goal for us as Christians.
Both these passages speak of the need of getting rid of things that slow us down in our race towards our goal. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “lay aside” ( literally to “cast off”) these things, and Paul in Philippians proclaims that anything that was gain to him, but getting in the way of him knowing Jesus more, was rubbish! Trash- that needs to be tossed out.
What are those things in our lives that keep us from knowing Him and experiencing His fellowship daily?
Well, the first and most glaring thing is sin. Basically, to sin is to violate God’s law or to wander form His path. Obviously if we are in opposition to God, we can’t really enjoy a relationship with Him. You know what it’s like to be in a quarrel with someone, the vibe is not so great. There is tension and churning in our hearts, emotions and often our stomachs. And that is just on a human level. Being at odds with the Creator is not a place of peace and definitely a huge deterrence to running with and towards Him.
Secondly, the more subtle weights that slow us down are those things that, as the apostle Paul put it, are lawful but not profitable.
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” 1 Cor. 6:12
"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify." 1 Cor. 10:23
I don’t think my shoe box piles were sin, but they kept me from seeing what I needed to in order to run swiftly through my morning routine!
The Heart of the Matter
Spiritually speaking, these concrete shoes can take many forms and are probably different in practicality for each of us. To avoid legalism, we must evaluate these things in our own lives, and not make a blanket rule for everyone. I.e. internet usage, money etc.
But, Mark 4 tells us that our hearts are the real issue in receiving the Word of God, our runner’s manual. These are some things that need to be tossed from them daily.
*hardness of heart
*an unwillingness to endure persecution or tribulation for Jesus’ sake
*the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things
Bottom line is, knowing Jesus is costly. Paul said he wanted to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. Both experiences are necessary if we are going to truly know our Savior and will often cost us our comfort and our own ambitions.
Jesus is our exceedingly great reward and there is just simply NOTHING in the world or ourselves that is not worth tossing out to know Him more!
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”