Jesus said that “few” find it. Most people never discover or enjoy what God has made abundantly available for them, which is tragic. Many Christians have found the path to salvation, but they have not found the gate to joy, or fruitfulness in ministry, or victory over certain sins. We should not assume we can merely follow the crowds and still enter the narrow gate. The right path for us will probably not be the one that appears most attractive. It may seem difficult and uninviting. People may even criticize us for following it. In those moments, we’ll have to decide just how much we want what’s behind that door.
One of America’s favorite game shows for many years was The Price is Right. A favorite feature was when contestants chose between what was behind doors number one, two, or three. Behind one of those doors was a fabulous prize. Behind the other two were items of much less value. It was always a tense moment as people made their choice.
When they picked the right door, the place went wild and the lucky winner celebrated enthusiastically. When contestants chose incorrectly, the host tried to console them by assuring them that what they had just won was better than a kick in the head. Viewers who watched the events on television often wondered which door they would choose if they were ever fortunate enough to get on that show.
Jesus claimed that every person must make a more important choice with a far more fabulous prize at stake. Jesus declared, “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). This passage has rightly been understood as addressing salvation. Even though everyone desires to obtain eternal life, only a minority of people actually secure it.
But this passage can be applied to other areas of life as well. These verses address the ways of God. How God handles something as important as our eternal salvation provides a compelling clue as to how he will deal with less critical matters. People want many things from God: a better job, a more fruitful ministry, robust health, a vibrant marriage and family. I contend that to obtain those things, we must undergo a similar process to obtaining salvation.
There are several practical takeaways from this passage:
First, God has amazing blessings for people if they are willing to seek them. God could have simply handed each person salvation without any effort on the part of the recipient. But these verses indicate that we must follow a path and enter a gate to receive what God has for us. I believe this sequence is true of any endeavor God places before us. Why do some people experience amazing spiritual victories while others do not? Why do some people regularly experience answered prayer and others don’t? Why do some people traverse the deep places of God and others linger near the surface? A journey is typically required to claim God’s promises. Some people are simply unwilling to invest the necessary effort to receive the prize.
Second, broad and easy is the way that leads to destruction. The reason so many people choose this path is because it requires the least effort or investment. Marketers know that people are eager to find the easiest road possible to their desired destination. When it comes to the things of God, following the crowd will often lead you off track. Jesus warned that few people take the path that leads to life. It’s not out of reach, but it is not a popular path.
Third, Jesus said the road that leads to life is difficult. Wouldn’t a loving God make the road to life broad and gentle, with tall fruit trees lining the way to provide shade and sustenance to its travelers? Perhaps. But Scripture cautions us that God’s ways are not our ways (Is. 55:8-9). God is not motivated by numbers. He wants people to exhibit proper attitudes. He understands that great rewards are best achieved with great effort.