Beliefnet
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The interesting thing about life is that we all start out with a body and a brain. From there, we have some variety in our experiences.  We may be placed with parents who love us or who abuse us.  They may care for us or ignore us.  Then, once we are emancipated from our parents, we still have the same things – a body and a brain.  Except now we also have choices: We can choose to live our lives walking the straight and narrow.  Or, we can take the path that Jesus referred to as the road “that leads to destruction.”

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

I happen to love the straight and narrow. People have funny reactions when I say that.  Typically, I get an eye roll.  The view is that I must be boring or lack creativity.  Or I simply hate “fun.”  Or I am being self-righteous.  Sadly, we live in a society where exhibiting self-control over what we do or say is frowned upon.

However, life has taught me that walking the straight and narrow makes everything a whole lot easier. Living a life outside of that structure is a recipe for hardship.  So when Jesus instructs us in Matthew to “enter through the narrow gate,” he isn’t trying to punish us.  He is trying to help us.

Now I’m not going to belabor what is involved in walking the straight and narrow. Suffice it to say that it involves not doing things to excess, whether it be eating or drinking.  It involves living responsibly, both with regard to our finances and with regard to our family obligations.  It is doing every task set before us to the best of our ability.  It means keeping our homes tidy as a courtesy to our families and neighbors.  It means acting with restraint and not just saying or doing whatever comes to mind.  I could go on.

I’ll admit that all sounds rather boring. But there is tremendous freedom that comes with it.  If I live responsibly with money, I’m not worried if I get laid off unexpectedly.  I have a financial cushion that will see me through to my next job.  If I don’t overeat, I am not in the position of continually trying to lose 10 pounds.  If I keep my home tidy and clean, I readily can have people come visit me without embarrassment.  If I uphold my marriage vows to love, respect and cherish my spouse, I likely won’t have to go through the pain and trauma of a divorce.  Much of life is easier on the straight and narrow.

When we don’t live with this kind of restraint, not only do we make our lives harder, but we make the lives of our families and friends harder too. Have you ever known someone whose first words to you typically are, “Ugh!  You won’t believe what just happened!”  And you think to yourself, “Oh yes, I think I would.”  Those are the people who simply can’t live on the straight and narrow.  Screwed up things just happen to them mysteriously.  And then they bring their brand of drama to everyone else’s lives.

When we live our lives on the straight and narrow, we are free. We are free of unnecessary stress, health problems and conflict.  Our lives run more smoothly when we live responsibly.  And then we have time to relax and do those things that make us happy.  And that is liberating indeed.

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