1 Peter 2:4-5
We are living stones that are being built into a special, spiritual house. We are a priesthood that are supposed to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God on a daily basis. There are many spiritual sacrifices that are mentioned in the Bible such as praise (Heb 13:15). Today we will be looking at the specific sacrifice of giving up those things which we know we ought, but don't.
Those Things Which Harm
There are several different kinds of things that we need to give up. The first are the things which the Bible says specifically do not do this. These are covered mostly within the realm of progressive sanctification.
Those Things Which Hinder
Hebrews 12:1 asks us to lay aside two different things - the weight and the sin that besets us. We already spoke of the sin, lets talk about the weight.
The first thing that we should notice is that the weight is actually the first thing mentioned - not the sin. When we run with weights, we are hindered from performing to the utmost. The second unusual thing her is that weight is separate from sin in otherwords - not all weight is actually sin. People want to know where I see grey areas in the Bible, right here is one of them - a category that hinders the individual but is not sin.
Hebrews was not written by Paul, but it was written by someone who was very familliar with Pauline doctrine. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 elaborates on the issue of running.
Verse 24 states something very interesting. In a race, all are running. Some win, some don't. The point that Paul makes is that we are to run in such a way as to obtain the prize. Referring back to our Hebrews passage, if we are weighted down with unnecessary baggage, how can we run as to obtain a prize? Noticing then, the last several verses of this passage, running in a way to obtain a prize takes self-control and discipline, both of which are required to remove something desirious in one's life that hinders but does not harm.
All to Jesus I Surrender
1 Corinthians 10:31 says that in all things that we do, God should be our first and primary focus. If God is not our primary focus for doing the things that we do, then we should not do them - there is no point.
We All Need Somebody to Lean On
Secondly, it is extremely important as well to consider others in our midst. In Romans 14:12-13, 19, when Paul is speaking of those vegetarians and carnivores that were causing disputes in the church, he said that we should all pursue things that create peace (God first) and that edify another (Others second). He does say that edification of others is definitely of second priority.
Paul was actually speaking here of giving up the right to eat meat in the presence of those who were vegetarians. He says that we should not put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brothers way.
Sometimes the working out of this is different in different situations. Today in the world that we live in where we are all spread out so far, maybe those Christians could have eaten meat in the privacy of their homes. Maybe the really did have to give it up! The point is, doing things for others is important.
Watch Your Back
Thirdly, we must also watch out for ourselves. It follows the age-old saying "J.O.Y." Jesus, Others, You. Some say that we should not even have ourselves on the list but we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling and we are to take heed to ourselves (Galatians 6:1). The only thing that we need to make sure of is exactly how we are looking out for ourselves. It must first be in light of the previous two ideas - God and others. And secondly it must not be a selfish desire for reward or favor, but a genuine desire to do whatever it is that God wants you to do.
It goes to say that all things work for the good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). Notice that the Hebrew boys who gave up what they could have had, excepting only certain food that was prohibited by law - although we do not have any indication that the food from the king was unlawful - ended up being better for it in the end.
Even so, we will end up better in the end than all the rest if we do the things that God calls us to do - and if we lay aside the weight and run in a manner worthy of winning.