Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Matthew 7: 13-14
Watching the figure skaters perform in the Olympics inspires me. Not that I desire to skate but I marvel at their courage. And their mental toughness, determination and dedication to hard work. Achieving greatness in anything does not come easy. Yet we tend to choose what comes easiest – the path of least resistance – but it often comes at the cost or neglect of that which is best.
Following the path of least resistance can become a habit that guides our lives and establishes who we are.
“Every time you make a choice you are turning into the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature….” C.S. Lewis
We naturally lean toward what is easiest, what seems most enjoyable at the moment, what is least painful and challenging. Not every choice we make needs to be a difficult one, but the path of least resistance must never become our standard for making decisions. So much is learned in the struggle of learning; so much is missed out on when we choose what is easy instead.
Laziness comes easily. Diligence comes with determined practice.
It’s easier to cheat than to study hard; to take short cuts rather than to put in the work for true greatness. Sometimes we give up simply because we have the wrong aim. We are searching for a painless path, one we will never find.
Self centeredness is easy. Self denial is hard:
- It’s easier to lie than to admit the truth when it serves ME to do so
- it’s easier to do and to get what I want than to think of others
- It’s easier to remain angry than to forgive
- It’s easier to hate than to love
- It’s easier to withdraw than to connect
Do you want to be counted among the FEW? “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
Do your kids? They need to know early on that to follow Jesus is not a walk in the park. Rather it is a decision that requires courage, determination and toughness.
The words of Jesus are not all easy to read. Harder yet to put into practice. In Luke 9:23-24, He says, “if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
Not an easy choice:
Deny self. Take up His cross daily. Follow me. The cost is steep. They may need to say NO to popularity. NO to temptation. NO to distraction. They may need to break with their peers even if no one else does.
The cost to gaining greatness in anything is huge.
Yet the rewards are immeasurable: real peace, true joy and LIFE.
The cross we are to daily pick up (choices we make) need not be a heavy burden because we do not walk alone. We are yoked to Him. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
When we give up on what is difficult, we may be running away from what our heart yearns for and from what God has called us to. We will never see God work in our lives if we aren’t willing to push through the tough times. That constitutes a faithless walk, one that assumes it is all up to me; that God will not show up on my behalf. To walk by faith means we must choose instead to push on and be assured of things hoped for. (Hebrews 11:1) “For without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”(Hebrews 11:6)
Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. Aristotle
There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Ronald Reagan
Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness. Maryanne Williamson
All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy. Scott Alexander