I am again surprised by context. If there is a verse in the Bible that can stand on its own, it is the ‘Golden Rule,’ Matthew 7:12. Nevertheless, it does not stand alone. Though it has been a sound bite millions of times over, when Jesus shared this great divine relational wisdom, it was in the context of the gate.
I want to ponder this gate a bit, but first let’s hear what Jesus said:
Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small (strait KJV), and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. ~ Matthew 7:12-14
Here we have two paths leading to two gates. These two gates in turn grant access to two results. The broad way and wide gate grant you access to destruction. The narrow way and the small gate lead to life.
Today I want to makes one fairly simple point.
How much of religion, even Christianity is based on the keeping of rules (Golden or otherwise.) I have a friend who is an orthodox Jew, and we have over the years talked a lot about life as an orthodox Jew. What it’s like, once a year, to clean your house, clean your car, wash every surface, just to ensure that there is not even a crumb of leavened bread anywhere to be found. Imagine the challenge when you have little ones who sit in their car seat on a long trip eating from a cup of Cheerios.
Different pots and pans, plates and bowls to be used only one week out of the year.
There are restrictions on where they can buy a house because it had to be within a Sabbath day’s walk from a synagogue.
You get the point.
As a young Christian girl, my mom was never allowed to go the movies. It was not until well into her marriage, when her husband pointed out that they were watching movies on the TV in their home, that she finally relented.
She grew up in a day when Christians ‘didn't smoke and didn't chew and didn't go with girls that do.’
In my wife’s house growing up they had stacks of my father-in-law’s old business cards with symbols and numbers drawn on them, so they could play games that required a deck of cards with out using those worldly ones that had images on them.
I had friends who were not allowed to go out and play, or even change out of their 'Church clothes' on Sunday afternoon, because it was a day of rest, and playing was clearly not rest.
I really do get where these rules come from, and I don’t want to dishonor those who keep them.
What I want to point out today is that this narrow way and strait gate, in context, is 100% relational. [Tweet This]
Staying on the 'straight and narrow' is about how you treat other people, not about how you follow rules.
Are you planning a trip to LIFE? Is your intended destination LIFE? Is that where you want to end up?
Then treat everyone you run into with the same kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, mercy, grace, trust, honor, respect, honesty, generosity, forthrightness, purity… with which you wish to be treated.
This is the road to life. It’s narrow and straight. All other roads lead to destruction.
See you tomorrow.