Step 10: Continue to make amends by examining your life and what you have done to cause hurt to others and then take responsibility for it.
We live in an age where all ways and religions are accepted as equally valid and good. People in the ways of the world tell us that sin and dysfunction is OK too. It is very easy to find so called friends and enablers who will help you go back to your old ways and keep you there. They will tell you it is OK, that a little drug or a drink will not hurt you. But, you have to know they are lying and seeking to ruin you. They do not want help themselves and thus want to take you and others down with them. Do not let this happen to you! You need to trust in Christ and have the willpower to keep on God's path for your recovery so you do not fall off it and go back to your old harmful ways.
This passage tells us that we are narrow-minded and bigoted if we suggest anything else. However, political correctness aside, there is only One Way, and it is both the hardest way, and the easiest. Hard, because it cost our Lord so much; hard, because it requires us to surrender our Will; hard, because it is so easy, we think we do not need it. Jesus is the One and only Way, the gate that is narrow, the Way that is difficult, and to say otherwise neutralizes the Majesty and holiness of Jesus, His teaching, and it cheapens His Gospel. Added to this, we have so many false religions, cults, lifestyles, and ways of living, we can be overwhelmed and confused. The price for choosing the wrong or wide gate will lead us from recovery back to our hurt and pain. And in doing so, will be the ultimate cost of eternal consequences and despair. Do not cheat yourself, and exchange what seems easy and fun for ultimate loneliness and desolation.
- Narrow gate: The illustration of two gates is from Ezra, and would be familiar to all first century Jews, as that passage is about coming back from captivity to rebuild the temple and wall (Ezra 4). One leads to Life (water, food); the other, death (waste and dung). This represents the beginning to the "Way" that leads to life and for us our healing and recovery (Matt. 14:6; 16:24; 25:46; John 10:1-18). The narrowness is not determined by God's anger or callousness, rather by our free Will and sin that rebels (Mt 6:14-20), so He has to chase after us. Many still refuse His Grace (Matt. 22:14).
- The wide gate represents the beginning of the life of destruction as what is seemingly free and open allows us to believe whatever we want. It does not require our Will, because our Will becomes the controlling factor. Materialism, hatred, refusing to forgive, prejudice, and the rest of the rotten fruits will take hold and glue us to that destructive lifestyle, then rationalize it as good. It seems the easy path, but will soon be more difficult and destructive that we could have thought (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:15; 21:8).
- The life of recovery, as well as the Christian life, requires the surrender of our Will, as in self-denial and obedience to Him (Rom. 6:3-7; 17-22). Few people desire to be convicted or challenged in their thinking or comfort zone, which they see as confining or bigoted. It will change our behavior, which is the main theme of chapters 5, 6, and 7 (Matt. 28:19-20).
- Difficult is the Christian way. To teach that it is easy is true on the surface; however, it minimizes who and what Christ did and the price He paid (Acts 14:21-22). It also minimizes the realization of how much you have been forgiven, and how much sin corrupts and destroys. We will go through difficulties and sufferings, but these cannot distract us; rather, we need to see the hope and glory we have to come.
Our recovery and the Christian life can be difficult journeys! We live in a fallen world corrupted by sin. Consequently, all we do is imperfect, and a struggle. We will make choices that affect the direction in which we proceed in life and in relationships. In so doing, we affect others around us in both positive and negative ways. Yet, when our efforts and motivations are centered upon being righteous, we will do as we are called to do, and even be blessed for it.
As Christ's disciples, we must be willing to be led by the truth of His Word and by our faith and trust in Him. Everything that is worthy and excellent requires more work, from painting a house to preaching the Word. This journey of difficulty should not discourage us because it will build us up to be much better, stronger and of better use to God as we put into practice what He puts in us (Phil. 2:12-13).
- Have you ever locked yourself out of your house or car? How did it feel? How would it feel to be locked out of Heaven because you made a lot of wrong choices? Thank Christ He gives us Grace when we trust in Him!
- How are you doing with your list and efforts to make amends?
- Now do some more examining of your life and what you have done to cause hurt to others, and then take responsibility for it.
- Why is it appealing to be open-minded to the point that everything is acceptable and permissible as long as no one is hurt? How does this philosophy destroy?
- What is the price for choosing the wrong or wide gate? How can you help motivate others not to make that big mistake?
- What do you think is the point of the two gates?
- When we take away essential truths of the faith, and believe what we want, how does this neutralize the Majesty and holiness of Jesus, His teachings, how much we have been forgiven, as well as cheapen His Gospel?
- Do you believe that a lot of people dealing with what you have dealt with, even Christians, need to be "set straight" as we have so many bad influences in life leading people far away?
- The Christian life requires surrender of our Will, as in self-denial and obedience to Him (Rom. 6:3-7; 17-22). How is this so for you?
- Few people desire to be convicted or challenged from their thinking and comfort zones. They see this as confining, or being intrusive. What needs to take place, besides the work of the Spirit, to make this happen? In so doing, will it change our behavior, which is the main theme of chapters 5, 6, and 7 (Matt. 28:19-20)?
- Are you concerned about people of bad influence today?
- In what ways have you seen bad influencers switch "gates" on you, claiming lies as truth? How do they make them seem attractive?
- How have you been a bad influence? How do you feel about it now?
- Do you believe that even though you may have been misled, you are still responsible for your choices? Why, or why not?
- The only way you can expose a bad influencer is to know the truth from the Bible, watch them closely, and test them. What do you think would be some good tests?
- What happens to your life, church, neighborhood, and relationships when you produce Fruit to nourish and impact others?
- What happens when you give out your rotten fruit to discourage and repulse all the people whom God brings to you? Can you see this from the perspective of others, or perhaps how God might see it?
- Making a public profession or testimony of recovery is essential. Maybe if you have not done so, this is a good time for it; ask your counselor.
Mediate on this passage for the next week or more: Romans chap 8© 1990, 2002, 2008, Richard .J. Krejcir Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org