Lenten Devotional 2021: Day 31

Friday, March 19 – By Esther Khubyar

The Choice Is Yours Matthew 7:13-29

Photo credit: Dale Kucharczyk
In this passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells the listening crowd about the wisdom of living a life that follows his teaching. As members of God’s family, we can experience true “aliveness” so well expressed by Brian McLaren in his book We Make the Road by Walking. Choosing to be faithful followers of Jesus’ way leads to a life filled with optimism, adventure, generosity, surprises, hope, and love, no matter our age or our situation. The choice is yours.
In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus explains we have to choose between two gates that lead to two different paths. The popular, wide gate opens to a broad, smooth well-travelled path that can lead to destruction. The other choice, a narrow gate, opens to a more strenuous and difficult less-travelled path which actually leads to a life of true “aliveness.” In John 10:9/10, Jesus describes himself as the gateway to abundant life:  “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door for the sheep … I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Will you choose the narrow gate option?
Jesus’ second challenge to his listeners in Matthew 7:15-19 is to live life as a fruitful tree, rather than a fruitless tree. In Galatians 5:2, the fruits of the Spirit are listed as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Our lives can be a reflection of Jesus’ character and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we could consistently exhibit the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit as we share our faith in Jesus with our families, friends, and neighbours. Will you choose to be a fruitful tree?
A third choice Jesus suggests is to be free from religious traditions that can restrict us to performance, simply behaving and following rules and rituals, rather than to developing an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus through scripture reading, praying and ministering to others. That is some of what Jesus desires of us, and in this passage he emphatically says he will tell such performers, “I never knew you.”  Will you choose to make the same commitment that Joshua did in the Old Testament (Joshua 24:15):  “Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”? Will you invite Jesus to join in your day-by-day activities and experience supernatural “aliveness” as a believer?
Lastly, Jesus challenges his listeners to build their houses on the rock, not on shifting sand. Notice in Mathew 7:24-27, that when the storm comes, both houses are impacted by the same storm – “the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house.” But, the house built on the rock stands, whereas the house on the shifting sand is destroyed.  Jesus encourages his listeners to be wise by building their lives on a solid foundation.  Will you choose to build your lives on the Rock, who is Jesus?
Dear Lord Jesus: Before stepping into each new day, help us pause to breathe in your presence and breathe out a prayer inviting you to be our faithful companion throughout the day.
Holy Spirit, lovingly direct our choices so that they are wise and in accordance with God’s will for us this day. Reassure us that mistakes are not failures, so when we fail to obey that still small voice, gently steer us back to the path of aliveness. You promised never to leave or forsake us; you said “no one is able to snatch [us] out of [your] hand.” Thank you for your abiding love and presence. Amen