The Narrow Gates and Wide Roads

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 - NIV

These are the (red letter) words spoken by Christ scribed in one of His many life lessons that were laced with wisdom throughout the four gospels. Some would consider such teachings to be hidden wisdom because it goes against our ordinary mindset. We want things that are easy to accomplish. We follow things that look enticing and make us feel good in the “right now” moments. When we see things that are hard to accomplish or when there is a delayed gratification it is not as appealing to us. Perhaps our lack of patience grows more now than in recent years because of modern technology… everything is right at your immediate disposal today.

When you have lived up and through the retirement age you have traveled many long winding roads and passed through both narrow and wide gates. With time and maturity behind you, wisdom starts to blossom. Hindsight being 20/20 you can understand this message of Christ from both in a spiritual or a practical sense. You learn that things that tend to come to us too easily are not as well appreciated because you did not feel that you earned it through the toil of your brow. When you accomplish something that was important to you there is a sense of gratification once that feat is finally accomplished. You feel that you earned it!

I remember a statement I heard when I was growing up that said, “all that glitters is not gold.” Many attractive lures are presented to us in order to get us to enter the broad wide-open gates but once you get inside the door you usually find that there is more to it than you thought. They call it fool’s gold. When you see a sign that says come on in and get some free stuff your mind usually wonders what is the catch. There is hardly anything in this world that is totally free these days. If someone is offering you some fool’s gold there is almost always a catch to it. In a sense life it a lot like that. When you see the really easy and free stuff you need to be a little suspicious because there is usually a catch to it.

What is the narrow road our Lord was speaking about? Surely He was not just talking about a paved road or highway? He was talking about the things that lead to life and life abundantly and not that shinny appealing stuff. If you fall for the fool’s gold whatever you purchase with it will probably fade away just after you get out of the door of the store. Those fancy things are there just to get you into the trap and then you are about to get screwed afterward. Not to be a pessimist but wisdom has earned me a few stripes over my 70+ years. When you are young your eyes are so wide open that you are liable to fall for almost anything. It takes a few hard knocks to teach us not to fall for the okey-doke. That means when someone is trying to sell you a bag of tricks, they are usually trying to sell you a bag of tricks and you will not come out the winner. Hence, wisdom is wasted on the young.

Christ was telling us that the things of God are usually found by going the extra mile. You need to earn things in life using the right tools. It requires knowledge, wisdom, and understanding to find and accomplish the things of God. God wants us to gain wisdom, which is not usually found by falling for those quick and flashy things. God wants us to do things the righteous way considering the loss and gain for others. He wants us to do for others, as we would wish it to be done for us. If you see something and do not consider how it might impact others then do not rush just to satisfy your selfish desires. Your footprints through this life should matter to you as much as it matters to God. If you go through life like a wrecking ball trampling over others then that is the broad gate traveling down the wide road with no consideration for others.

When we follow things that look good and feel good to us and you use that as your measure of acquiring things then more than likely it is only fool’s gold. Those bright and shiny objects usually come from the dark side of the spiritual kingdom intended to lure you away from the things God wants for you. God wants you to put what is right, kind, decent, considerate, and the like above what appeals to your feelings and your eyesight. If you do not take the time to make sure what you are doing is the godly thing to do then more than likely it is not the right thing to do by God’s sight. You might get what you want and it might feel good at the moment but in the long run, if it is offensive to God then there is no gain for the soul. That road leads to destruction and many will take it.

I can’t even count the number of times in my life when I have chased those shiny and flashy things or went for things that gave me immediate gratification with no consideration of what my joy might do to others or even harm myself. How many times when I used drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity to get my jollies with no thought of who I might harm during the process. There were times when I was driving either high or intoxicated that I have no idea how I got home. I could have caused tremendous harm to others but it was all about my feeling good in the moment. That is the broad gate. Have you ever cheated someone and got away with it? That is the wide road. Do you lie, steal, abuse others, get into fits of rage or anger, use sex as a tool or weapon, envy, spite others, and the like… those are the wide and broad paths that Christ was speaking about. Many will take those pathways and they most certainly lead to destruction.

On the other hand, things that are kind, decent, peaceful, truthful, loving, considerate, joyful, filled with patience and perseverance, and the like can be found through the small gate and down the narrow road that leads to a godly life and only a few will find it. Although you don’t have to be old to be godly, funny how it appears that we lack something that God needs us to learn before we ripen on the vine. I guess we are like His fruit that has to go through the season before it ripens. Not all fruit takes as long to ripen but most of them seem to require the ingredient of time before they are good. Thank God for being our Gardener that cares for us until we know how to care for ourselves.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 – NIV - Selah!