Skip to content

Skip to table of contents


Carry What You Must, and Throw Off the Rest

Carry What You Must, and Throw Off the Rest

“Let us also throw off every weight . . . , and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”​—HEB. 12:1.

SONG 33 Throw Your Burden on Jehovah


1. According to Hebrews 12:1, what do we need to do in order to reach the finish line in our race for life?

 THE Bible compares our life as Christians to a race. The runners who successfully cross the finish line are rewarded with everlasting life. (2 Tim. 4:7, 8) We need to make every effort to keep on running, especially because the finish line is closer than ever. The apostle Paul, who successfully finished his race for life, identified what will help us to win the race. He directed us to “throw off every weight and . . . run with endurance the race that is set before us.”​—Read Hebrews 12:1.

2. What does it mean to “throw off every weight”?

2 When Paul wrote that we must “throw off every weight,” did he mean that there was no load a Christian should carry? No, that was not his point. Rather, he meant that we need to get rid of every unnecessary weight. This type of weight could hinder us and cause us to tire out. To endure, we must quickly identify and discard any unnecessary weight that could slow us down. At the same time, however, we do not want to cast aside loads that we should carry. Otherwise, we could disqualify ourselves from the race. (2 Tim. 2:5) What loads must we carry?

3. (a) According to Galatians 6:5, what must we carry? (b) What will we consider in this article, and why?

3 Read Galatians 6:5. Paul identified something that we must carry. He wrote that “each one will carry his own load.” Paul here referred to our personal load of responsibility before God, something we must carry on our own. In this article, we will consider what is included in our “own load” and how we can carry it. Also, we will identify unnecessary weights that we might be carrying and learn how we can throw them off. Carrying our own load and throwing off unnecessary weight will help us to run our race for life successfully.


Carrying our own load includes living up to our dedication vow to Jehovah, fulfilling our family obligations, and accepting the consequences of our decisions (See paragraphs 4-9)

4. Why is our dedication vow not a burden? (See also picture.)

4 Our dedication vow. When we dedicated ourselves to Jehovah, we vowed to worship him and to do his will. We must keep that vow. Living up to our dedication is a heavy responsibility, but it is not a burden. After all, Jehovah created us to do his will. (Rev. 4:11) He put within us a spiritual need and created us in his image. As a result, we are able to draw close to him and to find delight in doing his will. (Ps. 40:8) What is more, when we do God’s will and follow his Son, we “find refreshment” for ourselves.​—Matt. 11:28-30.

(See paragraphs 4-5)

5. What can help you to fulfill your dedication? (1 John 5:3)

5 How can you carry the load? Two things can help. First, continue to strengthen your love for Jehovah. You can do that by meditating on all the good he has done for you and the blessings he has in store for you. The more your love for God grows, the easier it will be for you to obey him. (Read 1 John 5:3.) Second, imitate Jesus. He succeeded in doing God’s will because he prayed to Jehovah for help and kept focused on his reward. (Heb. 5:7; 12:2) Like Jesus, pray to Jehovah for strength and keep the hope of everlasting life clearly in mind. As you grow in your love for God and imitate his Son, you will be able to fulfill your dedication.

6. Why must we care for family obligations? (See also picture.)

6 Our family obligations. In our race for life, we must love Jehovah and Jesus more than we love our relatives. (Matt. 10:37) This does not mean, however, that we can neglect our family obligations, as though these were holding us back from pleasing God and Christ. On the contrary, to be acceptable to God and Christ, we need to fulfill our role in the family. (1 Tim. 5:4, 8) When we do, we will be happier. After all, Jehovah designed families to thrive when husband and wife treat each other with love and respect, when parents love and train their children, and when children obey their parents.​—Eph. 5:33; 6:1, 4.

(See paragraphs 6-7)

7. How can you fulfill your role in the family?

7 How can you carry the load? Whatever your role is in the family, trust in the wisdom found in the Bible instead of relying on mere emotions, culture, or what so-called experts may say. (Prov. 24:3, 4) Make good use of our Bible-based publications. These contain practical suggestions on how to apply Bible principles. For example, the article series “Help for the Family” has information tailored to the specific challenges that couples, parents, and teenagers face today. b Be determined to apply what the Bible says, even if other family members do not. When you do, your family will benefit and you will enjoy Jehovah’s blessing.​—1 Pet. 3:1, 2.

8. How can our decisions affect us?

8 Accountability for our decisions. Jehovah has given us the gift of free will, and he wants us to enjoy the benefits that come from making good decisions. But he also does not shield us from the results of bad decisions. (Gal. 6:7, 8) For that reason, we accept the consequences of our poor choices, thoughtless words, and hasty actions. Depending on what we have done, we may be troubled by a guilty conscience. However, knowing that we are accountable for our decisions can prompt us to confess our sins, correct our errors, and avoid repeating our mistakes. Taking such actions can help us to stay in the race for life.

(See paragraphs 8-9)

9. What can help you to cope with a poor decision? (See also picture.)

9 How can you carry the load? If you cannot undo a poor decision, accept your current situation. Recognize that you cannot change the past. Do not waste your emotional and mental energy justifying yourself or blaming yourself or others for your bad decisions. Instead, acknowledge your mistakes and work to make the best of your present circumstances. If you feel guilty about a wrong you committed, humbly turn to Jehovah in prayer, admit your error, and ask him to forgive you. (Ps. 25:11; 51:3, 4) Apologize to those you may have wronged, and if necessary, seek the help of the elders. (Jas. 5:14, 15) Learn from your mistakes, and try to avoid repeating them. As you do, you can be certain that Jehovah will show you mercy and provide you with the support you need.​—Ps. 103:8-13.


10. Why are unrealistic expectations a heavy burden? (Galatians 6:4)

10 Unrealistic expectations. We can burden ourselves with unrealistic expectations when we compare ourselves with others. (Read Galatians 6:4.) If we constantly compare ourselves with others, we could become envious and competitive. (Gal. 5:26) In an effort to accomplish what others have achieved, we may push ourselves beyond what our abilities and circumstances reasonably permit. And if “expectation postponed makes the heart sick,” how much more disheartening it is to set expectations that we can never meet! (Prov. 13:12) Doing so can sap our strength and slow us down in our race for life.​—Prov. 24:10.

11. What can help you to avoid unrealistic expectations?

11 How can you throw off that weight? Do not expect more of yourself than what Jehovah requires. He never expects you to give what you do not have. (2 Cor. 8:12) Be assured that Jehovah does not compare what you do with what others do. (Matt. 25:20-23) He treasures your whole-souled service, your faithfulness, and your endurance. Modestly accept that your age, health, and circumstances may limit what you can now do. Like Barzillai, be willing to decline privileges when physical limitations become a problem. (2 Sam. 19:35, 36) Like Moses, accept help and delegate responsibilities to others when appropriate. (Ex. 18:21, 22) Such modesty will prevent you from setting unrealistic expectations that could wear you out in your race for life.

12. Are we responsible for the poor decisions that others make? Explain.

12 Feeling responsible for the poor decisions that others make. We cannot make decisions for others; nor can we always shield them from the consequences of the bad choices they make. For example, a son or a daughter may eventually decide to stop serving Jehovah. That decision can cause untold grief to the parents. However, parents who blame themselves for their child’s poor decision take on a heavy burden. It is not a weight that Jehovah expects them to bear.​—Rom. 14:12.

13. How can a parent deal with a child’s poor decision?

13 How can you throw off that weight? Recognize that Jehovah has given all of us free will. He lets each person make his own choice. That includes whether to serve him. Jehovah knows that you are not a perfect parent; he simply wants you to do the best you can. The choice your child makes is his responsibility, not yours. (Prov. 20:11) Still, you may fret over mistakes you made as a parent. If so, let Jehovah know how you feel and ask for his forgiveness. He knows you cannot relive the past and change what has happened. At the same time, he does not expect you to keep your child from reaping what he has sown. Bear in mind that if your child makes any effort to return to Jehovah, He will eagerly receive him back.​—Luke 15:18-20.

14. Why is excessive guilt a weight we should throw off?

14 Excessive guilt. When we sin, it is understandable that we feel guilty. However, excessive guilt is a weight we were never meant to carry. It is a weight we must throw off. How do we know if our guilt is excessive? If we confessed our sin, repented, and are taking steps to avoid repeating our sin, we can trust that Jehovah has forgiven us. (Acts 3:19) After we have taken those steps, Jehovah does not want us to continue to feel guilty. He knows how damaging persistent guilt can be. (Ps. 31:10) If we become overwhelmed with sadness, we might give up in our race for life.​—2 Cor. 2:7.

After you have sincerely repented, Jehovah does not keep thinking about your sins, and neither should you (See paragraph 15)

15. What can help you deal with excessive guilt? (1 John 3:19, 20) (See also picture.)

15 How can you throw off that weight? When plagued with excessive guilt, focus on the “true forgiveness” that God provides. (Ps. 130:4) When he forgives those who sincerely repent, he promises: “I will no longer remember their sin.” (Jer. 31:34) This means that Jehovah will not thereafter hold your past sins against you. So do not view the consequences of your sins as evidence that he has not forgiven you. And do not punish yourself because your past mistakes may limit what you can now do in his service. Jehovah does not keep thinking about your sins, and neither should you.​—Read 1 John 3:19, 20.


16. As runners, what must we recognize?

16 As we run our race for life, we must “run in such a way that [we] may win it.” (1 Cor. 9:24) We can do that if we recognize the difference between the loads we must carry and the weights we must throw off. In this article, we have discussed just a few examples of what we must carry and what we must discard. But others could be mentioned. Jesus said that we could “become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life.” (Luke 21:34) These and other scriptures can help you to identify adjustments you might need to make as you run your race for life.

17. Why can we be sure that we will win the race for life?

17 We can be sure that we will win the race for life because Jehovah will give us the strength we need. (Isa. 40:29-31) Therefore, do not slow down! Imitate the apostle Paul, who put his all into acquiring the prize set before him. (Phil. 3:13, 14) No one can run this race for you, but with Jehovah’s help you can succeed. Jehovah can help you carry your loads and throw off unnecessary weights. (Ps. 68:19) With Jehovah on your side, you will be able to run your race with endurance and win!

SONG 65 Move Ahead!

a This article will help us to run the race for life. As runners, we must carry certain loads. These include our dedication vow, family obligations, and accountability for our decisions. But we must throw off any unnecessary weight that could slow us down. What does that include? This article will answer that question.

b You can find the article series “Help for the Family” on Some examples of articles available for married couples are “How to Show Respect” and “How to Show Appreciation”; for parents, “Teaching Children Smartphone Sense” and “How to Communicate With Your Teenager”; and for teenagers, “How to Resist Peer Pressure” and “How to Deal With Loneliness.”