It starts even before my feet touch the floor each morning. I lie in bed and decide if I want to get up or stay wrapped in the warmth of my fleece sheets until I hear my kids stirring. The choice to linger in bed means I’ll spend little or no time reading my Bible, praying and inviting God to prepare me for the day. My mind and heart know getting up early is the better choice, but my body lags behind, not wanting to emerge from the cozy cocoon. And that’s only the first choice in my day, which is why Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount are so striking:
“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, NIV)
The paths we choose determine the trajectory of our lives. It starts with the decision to surrender to Jesus, but applying His words requires making choices daily. Reading Jesus’ teaching throughout the sermon, I see how our daily decisions affect our walks with Him and color our perspectives. We can choose the wide path of least resistance, or we can choose the narrow path that leads to life in Him.
For example, if we really believe we are the salt and light He describes in Matthew 5:13-16, this means we are intentional about spending time with people who don’t know Jesus yet. When we enter a room, we look for ways to bless others and let God use us. Conversely, we walk towards the wide gate when we enter a group setting focused on ourselves, our insecurities or the attention we expect to receive from others. People who choose the narrow path see opportunities to be salt and light wherever they are because they invite the Holy Spirit to work through them continually.
Entering through the narrow gate also means opting out of situations that don’t honor God. There may be lonely moments when we choose not to join in a conversation riddled with gossip or an activity that celebrates sin. This is especially challenging for people pleasers and those who like to fit in with the crowd (Yes, I struggle with this too). Jesus said that “only a few find it” for a reason. It’s hard to differ from the crowd, but well worth it.
We choose the narrow path when we show love to those who have hurt us and when we pray for those who make life difficult. Every time we choose to offer grace when someone deserves judgment, we take a step closer to the narrow gate.
Walking the narrow path means surrendering our finances and our material possessions to God. It’s recognizing that everything we have is on loan from Him. We are simply His stewards and have been entrusted to make wise use of His resources. People on the narrow path decide not to put their hope in financial security because they know that God is the One who provides ultimate security. Choosing this perspective frees us to be generous and to discover the joy of using our resources to bless others.
We choose the narrow path when we ask, seek and knock boldly and persistently knowing that our Father in heaven wants to lavish us with spiritual blessings. We walk toward the narrow gate when our prayers align with His will as we seek to further His kingdom on earth. When we choose to be positive and encouraging instead of negative and critical, we choose the narrow path.
A few times in our lives we make big choices, but every day we make small choices that impact the direction we take. Sometimes we may veer off the narrow path and experience painful consequences as one poor choice leads to another and another. But God in His infinite mercy and grace is always ready to welcome us back again. And with each choice we make to do things God’s way, we find more joy and fulfillment. Wise decisions spur us onward toward the path of life, hope, joy and peace found only in Him.
Francesca Battistelli’s song “It’s Your Life” reminds us that when our hearts beat for Jesus, it shows in our daily choices. Click on the link to hear the song.