Back in the days of college—a hundred years ago—I had a friend who loved to play pinball. I have always loved playing pinball, a fact that some of you may find amusing! For a few weeks, we would go to the game room on campus and play. It was fun but very short-lived. Even at a quarter a game, it burned my conscience to spend money so foolishly.
One thing I remember about the game is how quickly, with very little effort, the thing would squawk at you and the neon sign would flash, “TILT!” Of course, if you’ve ever played, you know that those little nudges to the left or right can help move the ball in the right direction.
Matthew 7:14 (NKJV) Because narrow [is] the gate and difficult [is] the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Do you sometimes feel that the Christian path is too narrow? The King James translation uses the word ‘strait’ instead of narrow. It makes me think of the Strait of Gibraltar. One thing is certain, you do not want to TILT when traveling through a strait.
What would make those ships tilt? Mainly, an unbalanced cargo. How deadly, even on a wide open, calm sea an unbalanced cargo can be. Is there anything in my life that is unbalanced? Am I leaning too far to the left on my worldview? Do I slide too far to one side of compromise, either being extremely uncooperative or giving in to every new doctrine? This danger is self-inflicted. I loaded the boat, and either knowingly or unknowingly, I put myself and perhaps even my family in danger.
But what about those tides and currents that I can’t control. Our world is filled with difficult straits through which we must pass. We can play it safe and choose another path, but sometimes that’s as foolish as traveling around the Horn of Africa instead of through the Suez Canal. Or I can choose to set my course, not tilt to the left or right, keep my eyes on my Captain who promises to guide me through, and make the hard choices to not follow the crowd or give in to my own unholy desires.
The beginning of Matthew 7, where the above verse is taken from, lists the follow five statements BEFORE our verse:
- Do not judge
- the mote and beam
- not giving what is holy to the dogs or pearls to the pigs
- asking, seeking, knocking
- the good giving of the Father (not giving stones for bread).
Jesus is working toward the end of His Sermon on the Mount, giving more guidelines to the believer’s walk, and then He says:
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.Matthew 7:14
Guzik gives us these insights on our verse:
Jesus did not speak of this gate as our destiny, but as the entrance to a path. There is a right way and a wrong way, and Jesus appealed to His listeners to decide to go the more difficult way, which leads to life. He [Jesus] understood and taught that not all ways and not all destinations are equally good. One leads to destruction, the other to life. Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life: The true gate is both narrow and difficult. If your road has a gate that is easy and well-traveled, you do well to watch out.Blueletterbible.org
What is even more interesting is what Jesus says AFTER this command. (And it is a command. He didn’t say, “Hey, if you think this is a good thing, consider going into the narrow gate.” He just says, “ENTER.”) In his concluding remarks, Jesus talks about:
- False prophets and knowing them by their fruits.
- WARNING: NOT all who say, “Lord, Lord,” are known by the Master.
- The wise man builds on the Rock!
Are you struggling with a decision concerning your walk with God? Have you considered what is behind Door #1,2, and 3? Your decision may be what everyone is doing, or what seems easiest, or what feels so comfortable, but is it the path Jesus would take? Is it leading you to the strait and narrow or to the wide and well-worn path? Sometimes the phrase, “What would Jesus do?” really clears the confusion from our minds and helps us to make the right decision; however, beware: Satan will throw more dust in the air with his reasoning, like:
- Yea, but Jesus didn’t have kids!
- AND He wasn’t married,
- AND He didn’t have to deal with … you fill in the blank!
One thing about Satan, his arguments are all the same since the garden: “Is that really what God said?”
TILT! When you see it—the game is over, or perhaps that battle is over. That was harsh, Wanda! True, the stakes are high to stay the course, but remember:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;Isaiah 43:2
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.