Been thinking about the Narrow Road lately and how few there really are on it (Matt 7:14). In fact many will say to Jesus on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name and in Your name drive out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?’ Sadly, Jesus is going to say to them ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.” (Matt 7:32) The Bible says “many” will think they are getting into the kingdom of God, but they aren’t.
The Narrow Road has few. and many are on the wrong road that think they are on the right one!
It’s so interesting to me that these are statements made by Jesus during His sermon on the mountainside, the day He was preaching so straightforwardly to the Pharisees (and others). The day Jesus had this huge crowd gathered, at a time in which He was able to share His most important truths, He spoke about the legalism and hypocrisy of the religious leaders! I’m struck by the severe consequence facing those who somehow thought they were on the right road – the Narrow Road. The consequence was eternal separation from God! “Blind guides” He called them later. Blind to the truth He was showing them!
They didn’t understand there was a difference in the Narrow Road and being narrow-minded. They faithfully wore their “narrow shoes”!
Those with “narrow shoes”: “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”
So how do we know when we are being narrow-minded and blind like the Pharisees? Jesus helps us …
But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites because:
- you do all your deeds to be noticed by men; for you broaden your phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of your garments.
- you love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
- you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
- you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
- you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
- you say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering?
- you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.
- you strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
- you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.
- you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
- you outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
- you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’
I have been on the Narrow Road for years now. I’m thankful I’m on the right one, through the power of the cross of Christ and the grace of God. BUT …. for too many years I wore narrow shoes on that road. I was blind to my own legalism. I am so thankful God rescued me in His patient grace and set me free from the bondage of that narrow minded lifestyle, often void of inward grace and peace. I was sincerely wrong.
Because of that, I’m praying more and more for God to reveal to me those areas of my life that I’ve not surrendered to Him out of ignorance, fear, or sheer lack of obedience. For years my Pharisee-like attitude went unchecked by me and often unnoticed by other Christians (or maybe they were too afraid to confront me).
For years, many Southern churches (and others too) were blinded to the prejudice of their day. They accepted it as ok with God. They even practiced the actions of the day – not allowing minorities in their places of business, or not drinking from fountains that they had drunk from, taking their seats on the bus, etc. It’s appalling to think that good “Christian” people did this with no thought of the sin they were committing!
Today, many people live the American Dream with no thought of the majority of people in the world with nothing. Many in the American Church have turned a blind eye to poverty, to orphans, to the weak, to the outcast. As David Platt says: “Christians shrink back from self-denying faith and settle into self-indulging faith. While Christians choose to spend their lives fulfilling the American dream instead of giving their lives to proclaiming the kingdom of God, literally billions in need of the Gospel remain in the dark.” This ought not be and it’s a blindness that has set in and become too comfortable. But it’s wrong.
God, I confess I’ve lived in blindness. I’ve even been a blind guide, leading others to judgemental attitudes and actions. I’ve made rules out of rules and thought that others should obey my rules as if they were Yours. I didn’t love like You. I didn’t forgive like You. I’ve ignored the poor to a certain degree. I’ve ignored the orphan. I’ve lived too much for self, all the while feeling ok.
LORD, I want to bring others on the Narrow Road that leads to life, but I don’t want to live with narrow-mindedness, not recognizing Your grace and love! Give me courage, LORD, because “I refuse to stay unchanged. To wait another day, to die to myself. I refuse to make one more excuse. I refuse!