Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. a He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God's throne in heaven.
Think about all he endured when sinful people did such terrible things to him, so that you don't become weary and give up.
After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you.
For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children." b7
As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined?
If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all.
Since we respect our earthly fathers who disciplined us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to the discipline of our heavenly Father and live foreverc?
For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God's discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening -- it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs.
Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong.
Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.
Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God. Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison.
Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau. He traded his birthright as the oldest son for a single meal.
And afterward, when he wanted his father's blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he wept bitter tears.
You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai when God gave them his laws.
For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice with a message so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking.
They staggered back under God's command: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death." d21
Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, "I am terrified and trembling." e22
No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to thousands of angels in joyful assembly.
You have come to the assembly of God's firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge of all people. And you have come to the spirits of the redeemed in heaven who have now been made perfect.
You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which graciously forgives instead of crying out for vengeance as the blood of Abel did.
See to it that you obey God, the one who is speaking to you. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, how terrible our danger if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!
When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: "Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also." f27
This means that the things on earth will be shaken, so that only eternal things will be left.
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be destroyed, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.
For our God is a consuming fire.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)