What Does Strait And Narrow Really Mean? Part One
by Curt Klingeman
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Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (KJV).
To begin with, the reason few find the narrow road is that many are offended by it. The reason is that their hearts are hard, and they will not so much as consider the way. A number of people will at least take a few steps on this road because they want the benefits it has to offer at the end. They want to go to heaven, but they still desire the ways of the world. There is no depth in their walk. They say they love Jesus, but they do not want to be conformed to His Image. They have no real interest in spiritual matters. They are shallow people who are easily offended when hardship comes their way, and eventually take a detour back to the broad way. The ones, who find the way and endure to the end, love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. They embrace the principle that Jesus laid out in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (KJV). They understand that grace empowers them to live righteously before God. They have no interest in abusing it in order to live unrighteously. They love God so much that they desire to be like Jesus. They will endure the process necessary to conform to His Image. So what does strait and narrow really mean?
Before going into the actual textbook definitions of these words, we begin with a single textual clue. That clue is the spelling of the word, “strait.” It is spelled, s-t-r-a-i-t. It is not spelled, s-t-r-a-i-g-h-t. These are two different words with different meanings. Therefore, strait does not mean that the road runs in straight line and has no curves or bends. That would be easy to travel. Nor does it mean that the road is equivalent to walking a tightrope, making it nearly impossible to make it to the end. As we bring definition to their meaning, we will discover why grace is so important in traveling such a road. Broad and wide shows us that destruction comes easy, so the road is not even worth considering. Sometimes the most beautiful scenery can only be found by getting off “the beaten path.” Another clue is found in Luke13:24 where Jesus says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate” which tells us that it is something to contend for. It means conflict if we are going through the gate.
“Strait,” actually means narrow with the idea of having limited space, due to cramped quarters or conditions. It requires a squeezing through because of obstacles standing close about. It requires our pressing in, which produces pressure. Figuratively, it runs counter to our natural inclinations, similar to having a sort of spiritual claustrophobia, which requires an ability greater than ourselves to push through. This is where the grace of God comes to play in our lives. Another way to look at it is because the gate is strait, only a few can walk through it at a time. It restricts entrance to the other side. The Greek word for “gate” refers to a main entrance in the wall of a city, palace or temple. It usually refers to a leaf or wing of a folding entryway. It is not a common door, where people come and go as they please. Known also as a place of strength, gates were synonymous with power. As a figure of speech, “gates” also stood for those who held government and administered justice there. There are references in the Bible to gates of cities being used to accomplish legal matters. That means we have to enter the strait gate lawfully.
“Narrow” means to press together, compress, squeeze, or afflict. It means to suffer affliction, which refers to suffering due to the pressure of circumstances or persecution from others. It relates to a woman in travail when giving birth. This word is also rendered as, “throng”; “afflicted”; “troubled” or “that trouble,” and everyone’s favorite, “suffer tribulation.” It ties in with Matthew 13:21 which refers to the Parable of the Sower, “Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended” (KJV). That is the rub: most believers do not like to suffer tribulation or persecution along the way of their journey. Therefore, we find that the strait and narrow points to what we do that makes us uncomfortable and that which circumstances and others do to cause us further discomfort. Does this offend you?
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