Hebrews 12:1 (KJV)
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,
1)As we seek to serve God there is generally a peculiar sin standing in our way. It is the sin with which we continually struggle; perhaps the sin we held onto after surrendering all others to Christ, thinking we would be pure in all but "this!" Perhaps it is the sin willingly given up only to be returned to time and time again? Whatever the case, our hindrance to good success is not because we desire a life of sin--it is simply this one thing we cannot shake! "It" is not the same for each of us. Yet its presence keeps each of us from having the success God wants for us.
2)Everything that hinders us is not sin. We are often kept from good success by simply giving way to distractions which pull us away or slow our progress. A perfect illustration is provided by II Timothy 2:3-4: "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." There are also more current illustrations
--the student failing to learn because of too much attention to athletics,
the parent distracted from child rearing by social interaction with co-workers,
the school system or school bureaucracy diverted from teaching by a myriad of disciplinary problems.
While these endeavors are not sinful, we would probably all agree that such participation should be of lower priority than the activities from which they distract. We can also take into our body substances that although not illegal are not helpful and in may hinder our success.
3)There is a reward to those who are successful in avoiding hindrances; and patience is necessary to obtain that reward. As reflected in Genesis 37:3 through Genesis 45:28, Joseph did not give up hope when he was imprisoned by Potiphar. He exercised patience knowing that God would not abandon him, and he maintained the confidence that what he had been told in a dream would occur. Joseph continued his race, conducting himself as a child of God despite unfair treatment by his own brothers and Potiphar. Joseph's race was not a sprint, or even a marathon with a set destination: Joseph's race continued until the promised outcome.
4)To run successfully we must not allow ourselves to be weighed down by unnecessary equipment or clothing or materials. Is a cell phone a necessary expense or merely an expense? Is a grievance held against a fellow Believer acceptable with no consequences? or does holding such a grievance impede progress towards our goal? Being successful requires that we carry only those things needful for victory. Those items will differ according to our mission; and only you, the individual runner, can determine your real needs. Despite the obstacles set before you, you must run.