You were running so well. Who has held you back from following truth? It certainly isn’t God, for He is the one who called you to freedom. – Galatians 5: 7,8
In the first post of this series on running well as a believer, I shared about the importance of having a running partner during long distance races. Hebrews 12:1,2 reminded us that we can run our life’s race with endurance by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, “the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Today, we are going to look at Galatians 5:7,8 and apply the text to identify the things that hold us back from running well. Who are we listening to that has led us astray? What influences do we give an ear to that hinder us from running our best for Christ? What sin is entangling our feet or hindering our best?
Paul is clear that it isn’t God. God has given us full freedom to run with abandon toward His likeness. We may not even realize how subtle things sneak into our lives and begin to warp our thinking and bend it away from truth. I think it is necessary to be asking God to reveal these things to us and to redirect our hearts and minds in His direction. We may be the person that is holding us back. It may be the voices we are allowing into our lives through:
The media/news outlets
People with social status and money
False teachers disguised as Christian authors and celebrities
Friend groups that hold worldly opinions on cultural issues
During this current time of quarantine and national crisis, there are so many voices rising up demanding our attention. We are asked to listen and process a great deal of information and also speak the narrative they deem to be right. But how many times do we stop to listen to God and view the words and topics of the day through the lens of real truth? God never hinders us from running well. His Spirit resides within us and never leads us down the wrong path. We lose our ability to run well when we deny the power of Christ in our lives. We are only as strong as our ability to surrender to the Spirit’s control. And while Satan will use the people around us to trip us up, we are ultimately responsible for what we allow into our hearts and minds.
“…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 12:1b
Serious runners don’t run in jeans or heavy clothing. They want to be unentangled to run with abandon. Their clothing shouldn’t create drag or wind resistance. It should be light and breathable to keep them from overheating. Even their shoes are designed for the purpose of absorbing excess shock to their body to allow their body and mind to persevere longer than imagined. Runners need to be unencumbered. Hebrews 12:1 asks us to apply this to our spiritual well being. We are so easily tripped up by sin and roadblocks to our faith. God says to throw off everything that hinders. Everything. All sin. Anything that easily entangles us.
We are usually better at standing our ground on big moral issues but falter more readily in the small daily moments of denying our flesh.
Eating in excess.
Becoming irritable with our families.
Provoking our children to wrath: not truly listening to their hearts, being inconsistent with discipline, setting unreasonable expectations, etc.
Spending hours on Netflix but claiming no time for being with God or reading the Bible.
Cursing at people in traffic.
Engaging in less than loving ways on social media.
This is a very short list of common ways many of us stumble through our days if we allow our flesh to control our emotions and behaviors. All these things damage our ability to run the race with endurance. And God asks: Who has held you back from running well?
If it’s a false teacher, may we be diligent to study the truth. May the Holy Spirit give us a discerning mind.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
If it’s our failure to become unentangled from the world and our sinful desires, may we humbly ask God to forgive us and then begin throwing off anything that keeps us from running well. That will look different for every person. But, in Christ, we all can have victory, and we can keep running with perseverance.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57
I am thankful for grace and forgiveness and new mercies, aren’t you? Take a moment to consider one thing you can identify today that is holding you back from running your best race for Christ. Then pray about it and leave it behind. Experience the freedom Christ gives to run your race well!
Next up…Running well: Running the race marked out for YOU.