“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both….
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
The Bible teaches that there are two distinct and very different paths we can take in life. Each path is different in the way that we live now and where we end up in eternity. The path we are on determines what eternal destination we arrive at. Jesus describes this as the broad and narrow way.
“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 7:13-14 (NKJV)
We usually picture the broad and narrow gates as people standing at a crossroads where they have to choose to go one way or another. Look at this picture that illustrates this.
This picture is hanging in my office and I really like it but I don’t think it’s completely accurate. There are two reasons for this.
First, it gives me the idea that this is a once for all decision. Imagine if at this moment of decision, someone chooses the broad way and then later regrets it. The standing at a crossroads image causes me to imagine that the decision once made cannot be unmade or remade. I’m convinced that those walking on the broad way to destruction are constantly given opportunities to change their direction.
Secondly, the standing at the crossroads having to make decision image gives the impression that people are neutral until they choose. In other words, until someone actively chooses which gate to enter and which way to walk on, they really aren’t on a path that leads to one eternal destination or another. This isn’t accurate with the way the Bible pictures humanity.
Instead of the standing at the crossroads image, I see it as people who have already entered through the broad gate and are walking on the broad way to destruction. As they walk along this path there is a gate that is off to the side. They can choose to ignore this gate, they can choose to investigate this gate or they can choose to go through this gate. In order to go through this gate they must change their direction. They can’t keep walking the way they were already walking to go through this gate. Instead, there has to be an intentional change of direction so they can go through this gate.
While a huge portion of our culture believes in the reality of hell, very few believe that they are going there. Most people tend to believe that the way they are living is okay. This is true of people who reject the claims of Scripture. It’s true of Christians who have become carnal Christians. It’s true of Christians who have become backslidden and worldly. People way well know what Scripture teaches about the paths of life but have convinced themselves that they are okay and will be the exception to what Scripture describes. Proverbs speaks to this mindset.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)
This warning is given twice in Proverbs. This is a pretty scary warning because it says I can genuinely think I am on the right path only to tragically discover I’m not. I think the idea of the proverb is that we don’t make this discovery until it’s too late. It reminds me of the passage where Jesus says that on judgment day many will say to Him, “Lord, Lord…” thinking they are saved only to hear Him tell them, “I tell you the truth, I never knew you.” (Matt 7:13-14)
I think it’s disturbingly easy for us to think we are on the right path in life when in reality we are on the wrong one. Many people will end up there and be surprised by it. What we need are some ways to check ourselves to see if we are on the right path and going in the right. This week I’m going to write about some ways we can check our lives to see what path we are on.
For further study read Psalm 1.
What are the two types of people described in this Psalm?
What does the blessed person do?
What blessed person not do?
What is the result of the blessed person’s life?
What is different about the life and result of the ungodly person’s life?