by Dr. Jack Hyles
Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
God has for each of us a unique race to run. In order to run that race effectively, there are two things that we must lay aside: We must lay aside our sin, and we must lay aside our weights! Much is said about the laying aside of sin, but not much is preached about the laying aside of weights.
A weight is something which is not in itself sin but hinders the individual Christian from running the race that God has set before him.
Suppose two men decided to run a race. They enter the 100-yard dash with some other men. The first of the two goes out the night before the race and gets drunk. He takes narcotics, lives in immorality, smokes cigarettes, goes to a disco and listens to rock and roll music. All night he is awake. The next morning he lines up for the beginning of the race. Will he win? Of course not! Why will he not win? Because of his sin! His sin will prevent him from winning the race.
The second of these two goes home the night before the race and gets a good night’s rest. He does nothing that will hinder his effectiveness in running the race the next day. He gets up after a good night’s sleep and cares for himself. Now it is time for the race. He lines up at the starting blocks, buttons his overcoat and laces his combat boots. Will he win the race? Of course not! His problem, however, is not sin. He did not drink nor live an immoral life nor take narcotics nor go to the disco. His was a clean life, but his overcoat and boots will prevent him from winning the race. As far as the race is concerned, his weights are as detrimental as the sins of the other runner.
Now let us suppose that the runner who engaged in sin lays those sins aside. He goes to the altar and confesses them. The night before the next race he gets to bed early; he does not go out into sin. He rises the next morning with his sins laid aside. He approaches the starter’s block for the 100-yard dash. He then buttons HIS overcoat and laces HIS boots. Will he win the race? No, he will not. Why? He has forsaken his sin; he has laid aside the sin that did so easily beset him, but he has not laid aside his weights. He will fail in the race just as much because of his weights as he did because of his sins, and as far as the purpose of God in his life, he will be just as unable to accomplish it and perform it as he was the day after his escapade into sin. The great problem with sin is what it keeps us from doing. The great tragedy, for example, about being where you should not be is that if you are where you should not be, you cannot be where you should be. There is a race to run. Just to lay aside the sin and keep the weights will do little to help us win the race. The weights must also be laid aside. Hence, the church altar should be a place not only where God’s people lay aside their sin but also a place where they forsake their weights. The preacher should cry aloud against sin, but he also should cry aloud against weights. The Christian should confess his sin, but he also should confess his weights.
Someone says, “Okay, I’m convinced. Show me my weights and I will lay them aside.” Now this is the great danger about weights. They are not the same for all of us. Sin is the same for every Christian. It is wrong for anybody to drink strong drink. It is a sin for anybody to steal. It is a sin for anybody to murder, but our weights are not the same. My weights are not yours, and your weights are not mine, for my race is not yours and your race is not mine. Since each of us has his own individual race to run, each of us has his own particular and unique weights to lay aside. There are some things in my life that are not sinful, but my race forbids me from doing them. You, perhaps, can do them. On the other hand, there are some things that I can do which you cannot do because your race is different from mine and these particular things may hinder your race whereas they would not hinder mine.
Suppose, for example, that you came to hear me preach somewhere and you waited outside the front door to watch me arrive because you wanted to shake my hand. You are shocked as you see me drive up on a motorcycle. I have on a helmet, goggles, leather jacket, turtleneck sweater, blue jeans and boots. You are amazed; you cannot believe that Dr. Jack Hyles would come to a preaching engagement dressed like that riding on a motorcycle! Is a motorcycle sinful? Of course not. Is it a sin to wear a helmet? Of course not. Is it a sin to wear a leather jacket, a turtleneck sweater and blue jeans? Of course not. Is it a sin to wear boots? Of course not, but for my race these would be weights. It would hinder me from accomplishing the purpose of my life in the service where I was to preach. Now if one of the teenagers of the church rode up dressed in the same attire riding on the same type vehicle, it would not be a weight to him. No one would be surprised. It would be a weight to me because it would hinder my race.
When I was a young man I was a semiprofessional softball pitcher. When I was in the army I was an all-star softball pitcher. When I got out of the army, I went to a Christian college. A local softball team was playing a championship series. They felt their pitching was not strong enough to carry them to victory. They were allowed to draft one player who did not play with them through the year. They asked me if I would pitch for them. I agreed to do so. There were two games left, and if they won both games, they would be champions, but these games were against the best team in the league, which was favored to win the championship. The first game I pitched was a one-hit shutout. We won 5-0. The second game was for the championship. If we won the game, we won the city championship. If we lost the game, we came in second place. Along about the fourth inning the score was tied 0-0. One of our players hit a ball down the first base line. Their first baseman fielded the ball and dropped it. He crossed first base without the ball in his hand. The umpire, however, was behind the first baseman and called our batter out. I could not believe it! The ball was on the ground and most of the people saw it. I rushed to the umpire, told him that the first baseman had dropped the ball. The umpire said, “I did not see it.”
I said, “Ask the first baseman.” The umpire asked him. He refused to admit he dropped the ball. I was infuriated. Everybody there except the umpire knew that the first baseman did not have the ball in his hand or in his glove when he crossed the base. The first baseman said some things to me that were less than complimentary, whereupon I replied, “You wait until you get up next time. You had better be sure and say your prayers.”
As fate would have it, the first batter up in the next inning was the first baseman. Now I did not aim at his head; I aimed at a target, and just before I pitched the ball, the target moved in front of his head. I threw the ball at the target, and it went straight toward its suggested destination. The batter threw the bat in front of his head and the ball dribbled down the first base line, halfway between home plate and first base. This meant that I had to field the ball on the first base line, and the batter who was the first baseman who had cheated, had to run right past where I was fielding the ball. He and I collided and a fight followed. After we had fought a few minutes, suddenly I realized what a poor testimony I was! At that very time I was pastoring a little church outside town in the country, and my members had gotten together and come to the game that night to watch their pastor pitch. Now there he is on the first base line fighting with the first baseman. I screamed, “Hold it! Hold it! Hold it!” I got up, took the ball, put it in my glove, took the glove and the ball and placed them on the pitcher’s mound, walked to my car and drove off in the middle of the game, and I have not pitched a softball game from that day until this. Now there is nothing wrong with pitching softball, but for me it became a weight. No doubt there are many readers who pitch softball, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It was not a sin for me to pitch softball; it was a weight.
One of the fine men in our church bought a $30,000 Mercedes-Benz automobile, drove it out in front, called me outside and said, “Preacher, it’s yours!” I turned it down! It would be a weight for me. Now I do not think it would be a sin if I drove a Mercedes-Benz, but certainly it would be a weight. I could not run the race that I am now running and drive a Mercedes-Benz.
Driving a Mercedes-Benz is not a weight for some, but it is for me and there are things that would be a weight to the Christian that drove the Mercedes-Benz that would not be a weight for me because our races are different, making our weights different.
On September 24, 1966, I was spending my last day in my thirties. I decided to stay awake until midnight so I could be conscious through the last minute of my thirties. I went to the basement of our home, and there God broke my heart for my country. On my desk at the time were letters opening every door to me that a fundamental preacher could imagine entering. Two different colleges were offering me their presidency. One seminary asked me to become its president. Twenty-two letters were there from ministerial groups in large cities asking me to come and preach city-wide revival campaigns in coliseums and stadiums across America. Some of the largest cities in our nation were represented. None of that appealed to me. I did not feel that I was supposed to be a seminary or college president at the time, and I did not feel that I was to be a city-wide evangelist, but I had a thousand invitations on my desk from all over America asking me to come to meetings to stir preachers and churches and Christians to evangelism, church building, etc. The Holy Spirit began to speak to my heart. Suddenly I began to weep uncontrollably for my nation.
I went upstairs at about a quarter of midnight on September 24, 1966, and awakened my son, Dave, who was 12 years old at the time. I asked him to come to the basement which he did. He said, “What’s wrong, Dad?”
I said, “Doc, God has broken my heart tonight for my country.” I showed him the letters. I reminded him that somebody needed to stir churches and Christians and preachers across the nation. I reminded him that unless something miraculous happened, he and his three sisters would not have a free country, and that someday he might even be killed for preaching the way his dad preaches. He said, “Dad, what does it mean if you decide to go and take these invitations on a regular basis?”
I said, “Doc, it probably means that you and I have been fishing for our last time. It may mean that we have been to our last ball game together.” Then I said, “Doc, what do you think I ought to do?”
He looked at me through tears and said, “Dad, I think you ought to go,” and Dave and I both fell to our knees and he began to pray aloud without my even asking him to do so, and this is what he prayed:
“Dear Lord, tonight I give You my dad.” Now there is nothing wrong with having a dad, but for at least one young man in America, having a dad at home with him all the time was a weight. Somebody had to go and stir preachers to build great churches that somehow America might be spared.
What is your weight? What is that thing that is not wrong in itself but is hindering the race that God has set before you? Lay it aside! It is as necessary for you to lay aside your weight as it is for you to lay aside your sin!
(Chapter 8 from Dr. Hyle’s excellent book, Jack Hyles Speaks On Biblical Separation)