Matthew 7:13, 14
Many people say they like the Sermon on the Mount, so they follow it. It guides them through the challenges of daily life. In fact some will declare it to be all the instruction they need for ethical living and decision-making.
In this lengthy lesson, Jesus says some rather difficult things such as: Consider yourself blessed when people insult you, or even when you find yourself persecuted (Matthew 5:11). He pronounced laws of reconciliation that require us to forgive others who have disappointed or offended us before we worship God (5:23-24). He told his listeners to turn the other cheek rather than resist those who would harm them (5:39). How easy is it for any of us to love our enemy? Yet He not only preached, but practised this precept (5:44). We must be challenged by His cry from the cross –“Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34)
Knowing man’s propensity to want recognition for his good deeds, Jesus suggested our givings should be private – so much so that even our left hand would not know what the right hand is doing! (6:3). Preaching the principle of forgiveness, Jesus told the crowd that the Father would forgive them in the same way as they forgave others (6:14-15). Another principle is “You cannot serve both God and money”(6:24). In our generation, striving to be wealthy is not just a worldly ambition. Believers have all sorts of reasons why their focus should be on gaining status in the business community. Jesus’ list goes on and on. These are the words of Jesus, Himself. Do we believe them? Would anyone recognize that we are on the narrow path He described, by living according to His words?
How many of us fear being seen as narrow-minded? Don’t we deceive ourselves if we say we believe but do not act upon the principles of God’s Word? Do we do unto others what we would like them to do for us? (7:12).
Do we really believe that a good God would send anyone to eternal destruction? Jesus clearly stated “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it” (7:13). “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (7:19). Scary proclamations! Yet Jesus is not vindictive. He came to bring hope to the hopeless. He has a solution. Those who do the will of His Father who is in heaven, will enter the kingdom of heaven (7:21). By following Jesus, who proclaimed Himself to be the Way, we will spend eternity in the mansions He has gone to prepare for us (John 14:2,6).
Meanwhile our journey will be on a narrow path wide enough to accommodate our Saviour and ourselves. We do not walk alone in paths of righteousness. The poem “Footprints” tells us that when the way gets too rough or narrow, it is then that Jesus carries us. What a precious love we enjoy – the love of one who paid the penalty of our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him. He made the way narrow to protect us from evil, just as the Massai make the entranceway into their homes narrow and curved so that lions cannot come into their huts on the attack.
In the English countryside there are some very narrow lanes; two cars could not pass. Often these by-ways are lined with hedgerows, so visibility is limited, but the air is perfumed with the scent of grass and flowers, and larks are singing. Peace and tranquility reigns, yet there is adventure around every curve. This gives us a visible picture of living on the narrow way. We wouldn’t want to miss the adventure or the fragrance of beauty that rewards our surrender to Jesus’ leadership. Praise God for the Narrow Way!
We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow way, wrote Steve Green, praying that all who come behind us would find us faithful.
What benefits have you enjoyed on the narrow road? Has the fire of your devotion ever got you into trouble?
Will God be pleased with your journey?
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)