MATTHEW 7:13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
THEME OF THE DAY: YES, IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE HARD. If you are like me, and you are, we would love to make a difference for Jesus in our families, churches, and communities. We also yearn to be more and more like the Lord Jesus in all our relationships. And one more thing, we desire to serve our Lord with great zeal, faithfulness, and influence. Yet, we want all these wonderful spiritual fruits of the Christian life to occur but without pain, suffering, affliction, and trials. The reality is we don’t like difficulties in life to include the Christian life, and in today’s scripture, the Lord Jesus tells us simply and directly – “No, to follow Me is going to be hard, and require every bit of your being; your mind, heart, will, and strength.”
The Apostle Peter, writing to some suffering Christians, encouraged them with these words – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:12-13). Why would the Apostle tell these believers “not to be surprised at difficulties in following the Lord”? Here are two reasons:
First, our flesh is weak, and we have a natural bent toward comfort, ease, and are adverse toward suffering. When trials come, we might act surprised. Jesus would remind His disciples, at the height of one of His greatest periods of trial and suffering on earth, the weakness of our flesh – And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41). Our flesh wants nothing to do with the spiritual life and call to difficult self-denial, self-control, and self-discipline. Many Christians are victims of the flesh as it pulls us to comfort and ease. The result is a lackadaisical walk with the Lord that pushes against His call to the narrow and hard road of discipleship.
Another reason for Peter’s exhortation to not be surprised at the fiery trials in our lives is our false understanding of the Christian life. We do get surprised when difficulties come as if following Christ was to be easy. Our walks with the Lord are not “let go and let God”. Yes, we are saved by grace alone, but the Lord doesn’t live the Christian life for us. The call to obedience, the difficult call to obedience, is our responsibility. For sure, we are empowered to obey by His grace, but the act of daily self-denying obedience is up to us. Let’s not misunderstand grace and the Christian life. Grace alone saves but grace alone does not live the Christian life.
Is the Christian life hard? Yes. It is supposed to be. Jesus told us so, but let’s rejoice that He also promised to strengthen us and walk with us as we follow the narrow and hard path of being His disciples.
PRAYER: “Father, forgive me when I complain and want life to be easy and without trials.”
QUOTE: “The Christian life is hard. Jesus said it would be, but remember, we don’t do it alone. He is with us.”
In the affection of Christ Jesus,