We have all heard the saying that practice makes perfect. But the truth is that nothing we do will make us perfect. Only Jesus can make us perfect.
So, I suggest that we stop striving for perfection, and instead strive to simply keep going.
Easier said than done, right? Well, check out what the writer of Hebrews has to say to us.
Hebrews 12:1–2a (ESV): “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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”
The cloud of witnesses is the long list of notable icons of faith from the Old Testament found in the previous chapter, Hebrews 11. They surround us and should inspire us with their faith so that we can keep walking in our faith.
But that requires us to lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely. Isn’t that absolutely eloquent? And beautifully poignant.
This idea of laying aside is more than just putting something down for later. It is renouncing. It is throwing something away because you have completely given it up. This breakup is meant to be permanent.
So, divorce yourself from every weight …
- What is weighing you down?
- What bulk, mass, burden are you carrying?
- What encumbrance slows you, weakens you?
You need to let it go.
But perhaps part of the heaviness you carry is related to sin. We are told to lay that aside as well.
The word “sin” in the original Greek is an archery term that means to miss the mark. What happens when we miss the mark? When we fail? When we aren’t perfect?
Perhaps it is regret. Or shame. Or guilt.
Those are some pretty heavy things to carry. And they definitely cling to us. Like glue. Like a second skin.
But, if we can set all that aside, throw it away for good, then we can run the race set before us. We can run without weight or burden or anything that would slow us down. We can find that endurance to keep going, to keep getting up, even after we have stumbled or slipped or failed to be perfect.
Endurance means not swerving from your deliberate purpose. And it requires that we look to Jesus.
Jesus is our goal, not perfection.
We no longer aim at keeping perfect obedience to a long list of rules. We aim to follow Jesus. We keep our eyes on Jesus. We keep getting up and running toward Jesus.
And the wonderful thing is that Jesus is not only our goal and our example, but he is our source of strength, courage, and inspiration. The very next verse (Hebrews 12:3) tells us to consider what Jesus went through “so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
Don’t just look to Jesus. Consider him. Fill your mind with him. If we do that, then we won’t grow weary which, in its original Greek, is an image of something crumbling and breaking down. Or fainthearted which means discouraged and hopeless.
You can’t practice and become perfect.
Instead, you can lay aside all the weight and burden and mistakes that keep you from running. And just keep running. Don’t swerve off your purpose. Get back up and run, keeping your eyes on Jesus who is your strength, courage, and hope. And he, the perfecter of your faith, will be the one to, one day, make you perfect. You just need to keep going.
About Jennifer Miller
Jennifer Miller, MAR, MA, LPC is a Christian pastor, professional counselor, and author of No Longer Two: A Guide to How God Created Men, Women, and Marriage. For over a decade, she has been combining her expertise in psychology and theology to help individuals, couples, and families both in private practice and in ministry, as well as through her writing, speaking, and teaching.
She is the co-founder and Co-Executive Director of The Center for Living Well, a nonprofit Christ-centered wellness ministry dedicated to helping people live well and love God. She regularly leads classes, workshops, and retreats on a wide range of topics including faith and relationships. She is also a Master-level Christ-Centered Yoga Leader at the Center.
Jennifer is one of the new co-hosts on Heart and Soul with Jory Fisher. You can listen to her with Jory the second and third shows of the month.