The word beset is one that we don’t use much anymore, but we are certainly familiar with its meaning. It means to skillfully surround to prevent running. It is found only once in the Bible in 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.”
This verse tells us that there are two things that can easily beset us weight and sin. The Greek word for weight is whatever is prominent; bulk mass or in other words a burden or encumbrance. I believe that by specifying weight and sin, that they can be two different things. We all know that sin hinders us from running the Christian race but what are the weights?
This verse brings some vivid pictures to mind. Can you see a runner trying to run with a long robe on and getting tangled up in the material? I can also picture someone underwater getting tangled up in seaweed and being held under the current. Then, the most obvious thing we think of when we think about being weighted down is trying to run carrying a heavy box or backpack. None of these images are what God wants for his people.
It is up to each of us to find what is besetting us and deal with it. Maybe it’s busyness. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s just being caught up in doing hobbies. Whatever is in our heavy box may not be a bad thing, but if we let it hinder us from running the race set out before us, it becomes sin.
We need to take inventory to find those things to lay aside. It won’t always be comfortable, but as we strip away our hindrances one by one, we will find that running the race will get easier and easier. Our salvation does not depend on how well we run the race, but we want to run well because God chooses our race for us and he has promised a prize at the finish line.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28) (NIV)