“Small is the gate and
narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
- Matthew 7:14
I love a good poem. And one of my favorite poets of all time is Robert Frost. In 1915, Frost wrote one of his most beloved poems, “The Road Not Taken.” He actually wrote it as a joke to tease his friend Edward Thomas about his indecisiveness. But most people who read the poem, including me, take it as a clarion call to choose the right path in the life—the path that most people don’t take. The poem ends: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by—And that has made all the difference.”
We make decisions every day—minor ones, such as what to eat for breakfast, and major ones, such as who to marry and how many children to have. But no decision is as important as the one Jesus highlights in Matthew 7:13-14: “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.” Jesus makes it clear we all stand at a spiritual crossroads, and there are two paths in front of us. The first path is wide and well-traveled. It’s the path that most people take, and it leads to eternal destruction. In other words, the wide path leads to hell. The second path is narrow, bumpy and less-traveled. It’s the path that only a few people take, and it leads to eternal life. In other words, the narrow path leads to heaven.
What’s the difference between these two roads? Bible scholar William Barclay points out four differences:
Difference #1: The narrow road is the HARD road; the wide road is the EASY road. Anyone who tells you that following Christ is easy is lying to you. I’ll tell you what’s easy: Going with the flow, following the crowd—doing what everybody else around you is doing. It’s the path of least resistance, and it’s so, so easy. But following Jesus on the narrow path to heaven is never easy. It’s a battle to keep our big mouths shut. It’s a battle to be patient. It’s a battle to get rid of our anger and resentment, to put others’ needs above our own and to keep our priorities straight. But if you go with the flow, you’ll go to HELL Going with the majority will never get you to HEAVEN. Walking through the small gate and traveling the narrow road to heaven is really, really hard. But Jesus says, “Travel that road anyway.”
Difference #2: The narrow road is the LONG road; the wide road is the SHORT road. Traveling the wide road to destruction not only is easy, it’s short. In fact, it’s so short that you’re already there. The Bible makes it clear that you and I are already dead in our sins. We’re not on our way to destruction. We’re already there! The shortest road in the world is the road to hell. We don’t need to exert an ounce of effort to get there, because we’ve already made our reservation. But the road to heaven is a long road. As Christians, we may have come a long way in our faith, but we still have a long way to go. But as hard as it is to follow Christ well over the long haul, it is so, so worth it.
Difference #3: The narrow road is the DISCIPLINED road; the wide road is the UNDISCIPLINED road. Nothing great is ever achieved without discipline. But untold millions of men and women have squandered their lives by being undisciplined and lazy. If you sleep too much and work too little, guess which road you’re most likely on? If you feed your face more than you feed your spirit, guess which road you’re most likely on? The wide road to hell is easy, short and lazy. The narrow road to heaven is hard and long and requires discipline.
Difference #4: The narrow road is the THOUGHTFUL road; the wide road is the THOUGHTLESS road. It requires no thinking at all to go to hell, does it? You don’t have to think about what’s right or wrong. You don’t have to think about what’s moral or immoral. You don’t have to think about whether God approves or disapproves or your words, your actions or your priorities. You don’t have to think at all to go to hell—just do whatever the “hell” you feel like doing! But if you don’t want to go to hell, there’s no way around it: You’re going to have to think. We live in a time when far too many people fail to consider the long-term consequences of their actions. Too many addicts get behind the wheel of a car without considering that their stupidity will end up killing someone. Married men and women have affairs without considering that their selfishness will tear their family apart. Too many singles have sex with anyone they date without considering that their lack of self-control will lead to unplanned pregnancy, STDs, sterility or possibly even cancer. Far too many people live for the moment and will spend the rest of eternity regretting it.
In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus throws down the gauntlet and says, “Choose, people! Choose one or the other. Option #1 is the wide road to hell. The wide road is easy, short, undisciplined and thoughtless. Option #2 is the narrow road to heaven. The narrow road is hard, long and requires discipline and thought. The choice is yours. But you MUST choose.”
I hope and pray that you join me in saying, “To hell with the easy road, the short road, the undisciplined road, the lazy road!” I pray that you will choose the road less traveled—because that will make all the difference, both now and for eternity.
Dane Davis is the Pastor
of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our in-person worship service
Sundays at 9 a.m. at
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