I need to warn you that I’m getting on my soapbox today. But hang with me because there’s a reason for it and I won’t be up there very long.
Here goes . . . .
I am totally in favor of making food manufacturers and restaurants list ALL the ingredients we are consuming when we eat their products. And they need to list the real ingredients—not the fake names the FDA allows them to use so the products “sound” healthier than they really are. Or so they sound like REAL food—which a lot of them aren’t.
Another way we could protect ourselves would be to make the labels list the possible outcomes of ingesting some of these “food” products regularly. For instance, a can of soda might have to list cancer, diabetes, obesity, neurological disorders among other things. It would be like cigarette labels that now have to warn consumers of the potential health hazards of smoking. And alcohol labels that warn pregnant women of the health risk to their unborn babies.
I may be in the minority, but I want to know what I’m eating. I don’t want to be surprised later by a health diagnosis that could have been prevented if I had only known what I was choosing to put in my body. (Soapbox dismounted.)
Let’s take this idea a little further . . . into our decision-making.
How much easier would life be if the documentation on that car you purchased had included a warning that, according to its history, this particular model was probably only going to last a few months past the warranty.
Or, if before you bought that house, you would have been informed that the hidden plumbing was corroded and you would soon be forking over a huge chunk of change to fix the damage from a major leak.
And how great would it be if relationships came with a warning?!? Yes, please. Like . . . prepare for an emotional roller coaster. Turbulence ahead! Get ready for a daily uphill battle . . . for the rest of your life!
And employers had to tell you—yes, we may look and sound good while we’re trying to hire you, but after you spend a little time with us, you’ll regret the day you answered our ad.
I think those labels would save us all a lot of heartache because I believe most people want to choose the best way. I personally don’t know anyone who makes decisions that will knowingly tear their life apart.
Today’s verses tell us that when it comes to our spiritual life, we definitely need to check the labels. Jesus says in today’s verses that there are only two paths to choose from—one leading to life and the other to destruction. The road that leads to life is entered through the “narrow gate” while the “wide gate” leads to destruction.
Since these gates and their labels are symbols and not actual objects, Jesus tells us in the next few verses in Matthew 7 how to recognize whether or not we’re on the right path so we’ll know where we’ll end up. We’ll look at these clues today and for the next couple of weeks.
In the verses we’re looking at today, Jesus tells us that the gate that leads to life is narrow and contracted by pressure, and the road to life is restricted, confined, narrowed and few people find it. And He tells us that the gate leading to destruction is wide and the road is spacious and broad and traveled by many.
To me it sounds like the road to destruction is the easy way. It’s easy to find, easy to enter, and filled with lots of companions living life on the same path. You don’t have to give up a lot of stuff, if anything, to get through the gate, and you have a lot of latitude and company as you travel the road.
On the other hand, it sounds like the road to life is a much more difficult journey. It’s not wide open. It requires a conscious decision to enter, possibly getting rid of any baggage or possessions or self-righteousness you were hanging on to. And the road is compressed, which could mean there’s still no room for any of that stuff. It’s so narrow there’s not a lot of leeway–it’s pretty much the “straight and narrow.” And it can seem lonely sometimes, compared to the other road.
One way to help determine if you’re on the road that leads to life is to make sure you can remember entering the narrow gate. It had to be a conscious decision you made and it came with a cost—letting go of anything you were trusting in besides Jesus.
Another clue is to see how many fellow travelers you have. If your life’s path is very popular with most of the people in today’s culture, you may want to rethink it.
I’m not saying to look at what the world says is the right or acceptable way and do the opposite. But, a great majority of the time, that might just work out perfectly.
Well, I’ve worked up an appetite. Think I’ll go read some food labels and see if there’s any REAL food in the house.
Amplified Bible (AMP)
13 Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.
14 But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.
The Message (MSG)
“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.