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The Narrow Way
Matthew 7:13-14

Someone put up a sign along one of the muddy roads in rural Iowa during the rainy season. It read: "Choose your ruts carefully; you'll be in them for the next ten miles."

That sign may invoke a smile, but actually it offers sound advice. When roads are slippery, it's for your own good that you get into a rut. But make sure that you choose the right one or you will surely end up in the ditch.

In a much more profound sense, Jesus likened our destiny to choosing the right road to travel. After describing qualities of the Christian life, listen to His concluding words on the Sermon on the Mount: "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)

The Broad Way of Destruction

Most people, Jesus says, journey on the road that requires no commitment to get through the gate nor conviction of truth to stay the course. It's the easy way of the world, where you give allegiance only to yourself and do whatever satisfies your own fancy. And since it's the popular way to go, you need only follow the crowd.

Actually, this is the natural thing to do — the way all of us are born to travel. As the Scripture says: "I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." (Psalms 51:5) Let's admit it. We are all sinners. "There is no one righteous, not even one . . . We have all turned away." (Romans 3:10-11; cf. Psalms 14:33; Psalms 53:3). One does not have to curse God to be lost. Just do nothing — keep meandering along the path of least resistance and "ignore" the call of God to take the road that leads to life (Hebrews 2:3).

What we tend to overlook is that neglect is itself a choice, and as with all decisions, there are consequences. Roads lead somewhere. Foolish is the person who sets out on a journey and does not consider where it will end.

Jesus wants us to understand that the broad way "leads to destruction." Often He spoke of hell, a place reserved for the eternal punishment of those who forget God. Characterized by the loss of all that is good, He likened it to "darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12), an endless torment of pain and "the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:48). The terms used by Jesus to describe this habitation of the damned are doubtless in part figurative, and only by comparing them with what is within our mental grasp can we understand even in a small way the horror of hell. Jesus is not trying to scare us. He is a realist and simply wants us to know that everyone who continues on the road of destruction will some day face the day of reckoning with God.

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