“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
If you’re like me, what you’ve personally refused to lay or cast down along the way has been the biggest hindrance of all in how you’ve run the race.
I’ve held on to guilt long after repentance and God’s forgiveness.
I’ve clutched the past when He’s commanded me to run free into my future.
I’ve held on to bitterness when He’s given me grace to offset former damages.
I’ve held on to relationships long after He’s told me to let go.
I’ve held on to offenses when He wanted my hands pried open to reconcile.
I’ve continued practices that weren’t evil in themselves but became increasingly erosive and heart-numbing.
A hindrance is not always something sinful. Even something wholesome can become less and less consistent with the path God is opening to you. Its season has passed and it’s time to lay it down. These can often be the hardest hindrances to let go of because they’re more subjective and easier to rationalize. They’re not wrong; they’re just wrong right now.
The Greek lexical term translated “hindrance” in Hebrews 12:1 is ógkos (pronounced OG-kahs), meaning “a tumor, mass, magnitude, weight, burden, impediment.”(3)
Be careful not to conclude that every minute of free time or recreation is automatically a hindrance to your spiritual fruitfulness. God commanded rest, and many of us are dying for lack of it. If we’re not sure whether something in our lives qualifies as a hindrance, let’s ask Him! Let’s listen over the next few weeks as He speaks through His Word and through our circumstances. Let’s also be sensitive to a churning in our souls or a growing unrest or discomfort toward that particular thing. We’ll know. And when we do, let’s ask God for the strength to pitch it. One way we’ll know it was His will is that, even while we miss it, we’ll feel relieved.
As I searched the earlier definition for the Greek term ógkos (“hindrance” in Heb. 12:1), I saw a similar word listed among the synonyms: hupérogkos. It is used twice in the New Testament in reference to people. Compare 2 Peter 2:18 and Jude 16 in the ESV. What description do these two verses have in common?
Now check definition from a Greek dictionary: “Hupérogkos—from hupér, over, and ógkos, a mass. Oversized, swollen, boastful. In the NT used only figuratively to refer to a bigheaded or boastful person.” The antonym for hupérogkos? “Humble.”(4)
Sometimes the mass that needs throwing down is my own big head. We’ll never have a bigger hindrance than our own ego. The good thing about throwing down our head is that our bodies have to follow. All we have to do is go facedown. It’s up from there.
3. Zodhiates, Dictionary, s.v. “ógkos.”
4. Ibid, s.v. “hupérogkos.”
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