For this next question, we want you to consider the following verses. Spend a moment in prayer before you dive in, then read each of these verses and answer the question, “Why do hiding behaviors impede relational and spiritual health?”
In Hebrews 12:1, the writer tells us that to live a life characterized by faith or trust, we must remove (strip off or lay aside) some “personal baggage.” These are described in different translations as encumbrances, weights, or things that hinder. The word used in the original Greek is ogkos and carries the meaning of protuberance or bulkiness.
The verses in 1 Corinthians 9 and 2 Timothy 4 provide a helpful backdrop. The Apostle Paul was captivated by the dedication of athletes as he observed their training and competitions. Paul uses “running the race” as a metaphor for perseverance and finishing well in our spiritual journeys. The writer of Hebrews likely has this metaphor in mind when he talks about removing “things that hinder.” It was the common practice for top athletes to strip off all their garments (bulky robes) and compete nearly or completely naked.
It’s obvious that the author in Hebrews 12:1 is making a spiritual application because he defines one prominent form of baggage that we carry as “entangling or clinging sins.” In this Strength Journey, we’re going to make a critical application that focuses on stripping off our sinful “hiding behaviors,” which are our masks or false personas.
Answer These Questions:
Please take a moment to reflect on the impact of hiding behaviors or false personas. To have a breakthrough experience in this Strength Journey, you’ll need to face up to and identify your own hiding behaviors—especially in your most important roles and relationships.
- How you have experienced masked relationships and their impact?
- As individuals interact with each other, what happens to the nature or quality of relationships when one or both parties are wearing masks or putting forth false personas?
- Think about your different roles and important relationships. Do you have different protective personas in different contexts? Make notes listing your roles (work, family, friends, church) and describe your dominant persona you apply in each role. Share this with your coach or someone you trust. Unpack the relational impact of these personas.
As we know well from the Genesis story of sin’s introduction into the human experience, the first or foundational reaction to sin was a hiding or covering behavior. In Genesis 3:7, we learn that sin (disobedience to God’s instruction) produced a shame reaction. Adam and Eve felt shame in failing God and sought to cover their nakedness thinking God would not be able to “see” the real them and their now sin-infected and rebellious hearts.
Here’s the monumental problem with that shame-driven behavior: It kills relationships. The real you (flaws and all) cannot experience or feel love or acceptance from God or others when you’re hiding behind masks or false personas. Your false persona receives any love that is expressed. The hidden you limps along with a heart growing colder day after day for lack of receiving love or being able to share authentic love with God and others.
Love is the essential nature of the God who created us. We cannot be healthy or well in a love-deprived atmosphere. Our God is love (1 John 5:16), and He created us in His image to be beings who love. When we are able to give and receive love authentically, the result is spiritual, emotional, and relational health and strength.
Here’s the main lesson from Question 2: Hiding behavior or living with a false persona is the core impediment to genuine spiritual, emotional, and relational health.
Your masks are a clinging protuberance that must be stripped off. God fully understands the imperfect you behind the mask, and He loves that you unconditionally. Other important people in your life understand that you’re not perfect. They have love to share with you if you’ll just let them love you as you really are—the imperfect, authentic, sin-marred you. They’re calling out to you, “all-ee, all-ee, in free.”
Like an athlete in training, please persevere with this Strength Journey. Some good news follows. If you’ve trusted Jesus as the one who can save you from the consequences of your sin, God does exactly that. He forgives you. You might often remind your congregation of that truth. Now, let it sink into your own soul anew.