By Julia Gervais
Enjoyable, exciting, exhausting, expensive, frivolous and hectic are just a few of the adjectives used to describe the Christmas period. In some ways, they are all true. It’s such a wonderful opportunity for quality family time.
Curiously even amidst the current challenging circumstances, people have managed to overspend (thanks to the online retailers). We have definitely overindulged. If you’re anything like me, there is only one response when sorrel is offered…’yes please’!
2022 announced, ‘ready or not here I come’. And as if it had crept upon us, we scrambled to engage in a quasi-SWOT analysis; eager to announce our strengths, excuse our weaknesses, seize opportunities for growth and avoid or eliminate any perceived threats. It’s a time of self-reflection.
Traditionally, 1 January is used in the same sentence as New Year’s resolution. We plan to become more environmentally conscious, reduce waste, embark on a programme of study, change careers, pick up a musical instrument, join a detox challenge, and/or start an exercise regime in order to lose the weight gained during the festive season. This is just a small sample of the positive changes we commit to at the start of each new year.
Did you know that weight loss is biblical?
Consider Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” The previous chapter of Hebrews makes reference to the ‘cloud of witnesses’ (patriarchs of old – faithful Abraham and his descendants) and it details the examples they left for us. Following on from that, the Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘Lay aside every weight, and sin.’
What is this weight and how do we lay it aside? Is there a difference between weight and sin? Why did the Apostle Paul mention them separately? Is it possible that some weights are not necessarily sin? I’d like to suggest that there is a difference. A weight is a hindrance, something that slows one down or makes it difficult to achieve a goal. Sin is going against God’s law.
Galatians 5:19-21 provides some clarity on what is sin and its eternal consequence, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We have a tendency to treat this verse like a checklist; we don’t commit murder, nor do we practice witchcraft. Some of these vices seem obvious, so we award ourselves a pat on the back for not doing them. But what about the ‘not so obvious’ ones? We might not spread gossip, but we are often ready to receive it. Participating in gossip causes strife which incidentally, appears in the checklist.
Identifying ‘weight’ is not as clear-cut. Though making extracurricular activities available to our children is a positive way of keeping them engaged, it can become a ‘weight’ if parents become too busy chauffeuring them from one activity to another. Our lives become so hectic, that we are unable to cooperate with God in fulfilling His purpose for us. Maybe we need to consider the number and types of activities.
King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:10 reminds us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” The Lord is definitely pleased when we work hard and are diligent. However, working long hours could be our ‘weight’. Does it eat into our family time? Have we any time for our children? Working too hard allows parents to provide them with everything they want but not necessarily what they need (quality time). Is it time to reduce the work hours and introduce some balance into our lives? This will also create time for investing in our spiritual growth.
Health is the new diamond- priceless. Any lifestyle improvement plan should include some form of physical exercise. We burn excess calories, enjoy the social interaction, release the endorphins that lift our mood and it’s a great way to encourage weight loss. How much of our time is invested in exercise? On the other hand, is it all we think about? Has it become an addiction/obsession? Is weight-lifting your ‘weight’? Even while cultivating good habits, we need to be temperate in all things. Anything that hinders our Spiritual growth is a ‘weight’ and needs to shed. Habits are difficult to break but the word spoken to Jeremiah in chapter 32:27 still stands, “I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”
Dear Lord, please help us to lay aside every weight and sin, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Amen.