I was today years old when I realized that it was the STRAIT gate not the STRAIGHT gate Yeshua talked about in Matthew 7.
“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.”
Matthew 7:13-14 KJV
Go ahead and laugh.
OK, then. Let’s get serious.
Language can be tricky. When you are more familiar with a verse by hearing it or quoting it, that can cause misunderstandings when another word that sounds exactly the same but means something totally different, a homophone, is what you hear. Like straight instead of strait.
For me it was compounded by my further misunderstanding that when you come to Christ, everything will be ok, meaning easy. That only added to the idea for me of a straight, easy, not withstanding narrow path.
So what’s the difference
The word translated as strait is Strong’s G4728 stenos. The meaning provided in the concordance is narrow, strait. But what exactly does strait mean? According to various online dictionaries, it means difficult; stressful; narrow or confined; constricted; strict, rigid, scrupulous or righteous; affording little room; limiting. Think the Strait of Gibraltar, and “we are in dire straits.” For those who don’t know, dire straits as used here is not a band, it means a really difficult time.
The word translated as narrow in our verse is Strong’s G2346 thlibo. Its meaning is a bit different from what I was expecting (a tight squeeze). It means to press (as grapes), to press hard upon, a compressed way – narrow, straitened, contracted; metaphorically to trouble, afflict, distress.
So the path that we as believers have chosen is a difficult, strict, righteous path with troubles (tests, trials, temptations). We are to take up our cross and follow Him.
A real-life example of strait
Many, many years ago while on my honeymoon, we were driving up a one-lane mountain road. There was a sign posted “Be prepared to back up.” Going up with no guard rail on the cliff side is difficult and scary enough, but backing up? We opted to scoot over to the right as far as possible without going over the cliff to let the van coming down get by. When it was our turn to resume our ascent, the front right tire began to go over the edge. We were in dire straits.
Obviously, we lived to tell the tale, but it was scary.
That is how our lives are here on earth. We are walking the strait but not always straight path. If you notice in the verse, He uses both strait and narrow. When Yeshua/Jesus uses two words meaning the same thing in a sentence, it is for emphasis. I think He is emphasizing that we need to be on the lookout. We need to be ready in season and out of season. We need to be prepared and keeping our eyes on Him.
Yeshua/Jesus did say His yoke was easy and His burden light. But He also said that in this life we would have troubles.
But don’t worry. Even though we have troubles, even though times are hard, even though things didn’t pan out like we wanted them to, Yeshua/Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.” We just need to follow close to Him.
James exhorts us to be joyful when tempted. Your old friends are going to tempt you to return to your old ways. They will make fun of you and call you names. You will be tempted to return you your old ways. But…
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;”
James 1:2 KJV
And Paul to the Romans..
And not only this, but [with joy] let us exult in our sufferings and rejoice in our hardships, knowing that hardship (distress, pressure, trouble) produces patient endurance;
Romans 5:3 AMP
And finally remember what Yeshua/Jesus ssid about endurance…
And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22 NKJV
When days are difficult and things don’t go your way, remember you are on the narrow road, headed for the strait gate. The way may be difficult, challenging, or hard, but you can use His Word to light your path.
Don’t let disappointments steal your joy. Don’t let bad times entice you to sin. Keep your eyes on your Savior and put one foot in front of the other. It will be so worth it. You know what’s on the other side of the narrow gate? Heaven!
Be one of the faithful, be one of the few.
Verses to consider and memorize: Psalm 119:105, Psalm 16:11, John 14:6, Job 23:11
Heavenly Father, help me to stay on the narrow path and to reach the strait gate. Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
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Feature Image Compilation: background photo via Canva, phonebooth photo by John-Paul Henry on Unsplash .
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