October 18 I Thursday
2 Thessalonians 1
“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 the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” —Matthew 7:13-14
Life is like a road. We are all going somewhere; the only issue is knowing where we are going. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks of two roads. One has a wide gate, a broad road and plenty of company, but it leads to destruction. The other has a small gate, a narrow road and few people on it, but it leads to life. Many speak of the broad way as living outside of Christ and the narrow way as the Christian life, but given that the context of the Sermon on the Mount is not evangelism but instruction for people who have already become disciples, this suggests a different interpretation.
There is a road to destruction along which a Christian may go. It is not the eternal destruction of the soul, but the destruction of all that might otherwise have been the fruit of their lives. Paul writes that all believers will have to go through “fire” on the Day of Judgment, and their foundation, their works, will be shown for what they are. Activity rooted in Christ will survive the flames, but any activity rooted in personal agendas or efforts will be “burned up,” though the believers themselves will be saved “as one escaping through the flames” (1 Corinthians 3:15). The latter is the end of the broad road of which Jesus warns.
When comparing the two roads side by side, the broad road appears more attractive to modern sensibilities. To be “narrow” is not a popular concept today. Most would like to be considered broad and tolerant, thinking these virtues a mark of maturity. However, in this passage, to be narrow is to be virtuous, for it is to be aiming at a target and going for it. If a plane flies even one degree off course on the compass bearing, it will end up hundreds of miles in the wrong direction. It is in this sense that the road to life is narrow: we cannot simply head in any direction we choose and expect to always end up at the same destination.
Paradoxically, it is in travelling the narrow road that true freedom is found. To insist on petrol in a car’s gas tank, oil in the engine and air in the tires may appear restrictive and narrow, but keeping to these instructions is what makes the car function as intended. Although taking the broad road and living as we please may sound wonderful, this is aimless driving towards destruction. It is only in narrowing our interests to those of Christ, living by His indwelling presence as we were designed to, that we find real freedom and life.
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that though it is sometimes tempting to travel the broad road, true freedom is found by travelling Your way. Help me stick to the narrow road.