I can remember times when I was confronted by injustice, my father would challenge me by saying, “Take the high road.” I knew what he was saying. Interestingly, I think that is exactly what Jesus was saying when he spoke about a narrow road that leads to life, but wide is the road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). Ironically, I have never heard anyone interpret those verses that way to me. Instead, I have been told most of my life that Jesus is basically saying, “Christians (the few) get into heaven and the rest are on their way to hell.” It has always been a narrow trickle making their way into heaven and a super highway hellbent for destruction. But read the context for these verses. This is the concluding statement of Jesus’ speech known as “The Sermon on the Mount”.
The entire message is about taking the high road. You will be blessed when you are low, when you mourn, when you’re meek, when you’re merciful, when you’re pure, when you bring peace, and even when you are persecuted for doing what is right.
Shine. You are the light of the world. Flavour. You are the salt of the earth. Don’t hate, lust, divorce, swear, or take revenge. Rather, love your enemy. Be generous with them. Notice and care for the needy.
Consider your soul: pray and fast in private. Allow the ways of God to be your treasure. Be generous rather than greedy. It allows you to shine more effectively. Pursue this, seek it out. Ask questions and make requests. (Google “Hebrew Idioms” to learn more about “when your eyes are good/when your eyes are bad” – an idiom distinguishing between generosity and stinginess.)
Few do this, but if you do these things will bring life to your soul. You will have confidence and courage. Your decisions will be sound. People will notice a depth and maturity in you, because most people consider themselves first. Take the high road, the narrow road, the path that few have explored. It leads to an oasis that most have heard about, but few believe actually exists.
Jesus then states, “Many will call me Lord . . . and I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you’”(7:21-23).
His description of the narrow and wide roads leading consecutively to life or destruction have often been summarized as those who are Christians and those who are not. In one sense that may be true, but that is not the message of those two verses. The message is about intent, the heart, the passion that drives us. One side puts themselves in the other’s place and asks, “What would I appreciate happening to me in this context?” (7:12) The other position considers themselves and their needs before they will consider another’s.
It isn’t hard to tell which camp a person lives in. Their lives will eventually bear witness to the motives of their heart (7:16-20). It also isn’t too late to do something about it. Your life can have a stable foundation. Build it in the place you discover as you walk that narrow path.
David is the leader of Paradigm Ministries, a partner organization of the DNA. Subscribe to David’s regular Worldview articles at his site.