Introduction: (Enter the auditorium carrying many pieces of luggage, talking to myself, dropping suitcases, picking them up, and tripping over them as I make my way to the platform.)
"After all, you never know what you might need when you travel, so it's always best to take it all!"
All of this to make a point. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that there are two things that will keep us from winning the race.
- Besetting sins.
The longer I'm saved, the more I realize that Christians carry a lot of excess baggage with them throughout their lives. Excess baggage is baggage that exceeds the allowable amount. According to United Airlines, the flight Brother Penn and I just took allowed us to check two bags and carry on two bags. Anything exceeding this amount or the allowable size for each bag would cost an extra charge. In fact, United says in their information concerning baggage allowances, "If you check more baggage than the free baggage allowance permits, you will need to pay a charge that will vary by destination. Contact United or a travel agent prior to your trip for specific charges and restrictions." Excess baggage always costs you more.
I find a parallel here. As if being human were not enough baggage, Christians choose to exceed the allowable number of bags while traveling through this life. For some reason, Christians accumulate excess and overweight baggage in many areas of their lives.
1. The excess baggage of the past. - Philippians 3:13
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before."
- Your past is just exactly that, your past. The Apostle Paul tells us what he has done while admonishing us to do the same, "...forgetting those things which are behind..."
- Not everyone in this room has a pristine past life. Some of you lived like heathens before you were saved, while others chose to live like heathens after they were saved. But all of that is in the past now.
- Constantly reliving your past mistakes will hinder you from going forward.
- The Apostle Paul was guilty of quite a number of terrible crimes against the people of God, yet God forgave him and gave him a new life in Christ.
- Your sins are in the past and should be left there.
* God has removed our sins from us, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12)
* God buried our sins in the depths of the sea, "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:19)
* God has forgotten our sins altogether, "For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." (Hebrews 8:12)
* God has cast our sins behind His back, "Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." (Isaiah 38:17)
- Not only that, but we have been forgiven of our sins because of Calvary. So, why do you keep carrying with you sins that have been removed, buried, forgotten, and placed behind God's back? This is excess baggage you do not need.
2. The excess baggage of the present. - Ephesians 4:22
"That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts."
- As a Christian, you still have the "old man" living inside of you. This is your old nature. It did not die when you got saved; it is very much alive, and the Apostle Paul taught us that it stays with us daily, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Romans 7:18)
* Christians could actually be like Jesus if they weren't so much like the world!
- Christians have fallen in love with the world and with what it has to offer. Because of that, the world has become excess baggage. This excess baggage will cost you more than you expect to pay.
- For some reason, the people of God are infatuated with the world. The world offers us three enemies, and these are found in 1 John 2:16, "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."
* There is the excess baggage of the lust of the flesh. This is what the flesh desires over the things of the Spirit.
* There is the excess baggage of the lust of the eyes. This is what the eyes desire to have over the things of the Spirit.
* There is the excess baggage of the pride of life. This is what keeps you from being what God wants you to be.
- This baggage will always cost you more than you anticipated at first. Just as the airlines allow you a certain number of bags, they will make you pay for anything over and above that. In the same way, God allows you to be human but forbids you from being worldly.
* "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)
* "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." (Romans 12:2)
- Is there a Biblical answer to putting down this baggage? Galatians 5:16 addresses it clearly, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
3. The excess baggage of the future. - Matthew 6:25-33
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
- There are Christians, even in this room, who carry the extra baggage of constant worry about what may happen in the future. Ladies and gentlemen, the best way to prepare for the future is to be prepared for today.
- Some Christians worry about everything, and their favorite song is "Why Pray When You Can Worry?"
- Christians, who worry about the future, find it difficult to be the kind of Christians they ought to be today. The Bible speaks of fret and worry:
* Psalm 37:1, "Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity."
* Psalm 37:7, "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."
* Psalm 37:8, "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil."
* Proverbs 24:19, "Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked."
* Philippians 4:6, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
* And Jesus said in our text, "...take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?..."
- Christians can find more things to worry about at the drop of a hat than most any other folks I know.
- Worry reveals a lack of faith; and without faith, it is impossible to please God.
Conclusion: When I came into the auditorium carrying all of that baggage, I found myself tripping and walking awkwardly to the platform. What excess baggage are you carrying? Please understand, when you take too much upon you to carry, it will cause you to stumble and walk without surety. As you travel through this life, just as excess baggage will cost you more when you fly, your excess baggage will cost you more than you ever thought you would pay.