Therefore, surrounded as we are by such a vast cloud of witnesses, let us fling aside every encumbrance and the sin that so readily entangles our feet. And let us run with patient endurance the race that lies before us,
simply fixing our gaze upon Jesus, our Prince Leader in the faith, who will also award us the prize. He, for the sake of the joy which lay before Him, patiently endured the cross, looking with contempt upon its shame, and afterwards seated Himself-- where He still sits--at the right hand of the throne of God.
Therefore, if you would escape becoming weary and faint-hearted, compare your own sufferings with those of Him who endured such hostility directed against Him by sinners.
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted so as to endanger your lives;
and you have quite forgotten the encouraging words which are addressed to you as sons, and which say, 'My son, do not think lightly of the Lord's discipline, and do not faint when He corrects you;
for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines: and He scourges every son whom He acknowledges.'
The sufferings that you are enduring are for your discipline. God is dealing with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
And if you are left without discipline, of which every true son has had a share, that shows that you are bastards, and not true sons.
Besides this, our earthly fathers used to discipline us and we treated them with respect, and shall we not be still more submissive to the Father of our spirits, and live?
It is true that they disciplined us for a few years according as they thought fit; but He does it for our certain good, in order that we may become sharers in His own holy character.
Now, at the time, discipline seems to be a matter not for joy, but for grief; yet it afterwards yields to those who have passed through its training a result full of peace--namely, righteousness.
Therefore strengthen the drooping hands and paralysed knees,
and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put entirely out of joint
but may rather be restored. Persistently strive for peace with all men, and for that growth in holiness apart from which no one will see the Lord.
Be carefully on your guard lest there be any one who falls back from the grace of God; lest any root bearing bitter fruit spring up and cause trouble among you, and through it the whole brotherhood be defiled;
lest there be a fornicator, or an ungodly person like Esau, who, in return for a single meal, parted with the birthright which belonged to him.
For you know that even afterwards, when he wished to secure the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no opportunity for undoing what he had done, though he sought the blessing earnestly with tears.
For you have not come to a material object all ablaze with fire, and to gloom and darkness and storm and trumpet-blast and the sound of words--
a sound of such a kind that those who heard it entreated that no more should be added.
For they could not endure the order which had been given, 'Even a wild beast, if it touches the mountain, shall be stoned to death;'
and so terrible was the scene that Moses said, 'I tremble with fear.'
On the contrary you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the ever-living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to countless hosts of angels,
to the great festal gathering and Church of the first-born, whose names are recorded in Heaven, and to a Judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect,
and to Jesus the negotiator of a new Covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks in more gracious tones than that of Abel.
Be careful not to refuse to listen to Him who is speaking to you. For if they of old did not escape unpunished when they refused to listen to him who spoke on earth, much less shall we escape who turn a deaf ear to Him who now speaks from Heaven.
His voice then shook the earth, but now we have His promise, 'Yet again I will, once for all, cause not only the earth to tremble, but Heaven also.'
Here the words 'Yet again, once for all' denote the removal of the things which can be shaken--created things--in order that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, receiving, as we now do, a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us cherish thankfulness so that we may ever offer to God an acceptable service, with godly reverence and awe.
For our God is also a consuming fire.