I am currently re-reading a good book that I read over 16 years ago by J.C. Ryle. The title of the book is called «Holiness». It is a book that should be read in small portions, for it provokes the reader to ponder and mediate on what they have read.
In the chapter entitled, «The Fight», Ryle says this:
«Perhaps you are straining every nerve to obtain money, or place, or power, or pleasure. If that be your case, take care. You are sowing a crop of bitter disappointment. Unless you mind what you are about, your latter end will be to lie down in sorrow.»
In referring to those whom have fought in life for the wrong things, like the ones mentioned above, Ryle later on says:
«Often, far too often, they have found out that their whole life has been a grand mistake. They have tasted by bitter experience the feelings of the dying statesman who cried aloud in his last hours, ‘The battle is fought: the battle is fought: but victory is not won.»
Then he encourages the reader to make a clear and decisive decision:
«For your own happiness sake, resolve this day to join the Lord’s side. Shake off your past carelessness and unbelief. Come out from the ways of thoughtless, unreasoning world. Take up the cross, and become a good soldier of Christ.»
Here is a truth that no one can deny: we are all striving and fighting for something. Peace, comfort, popularity, money, success, safety, health, happiness, joy, etc. The real, big and important question is: if we get what we are striving for, what will it all matter when we stand before the judgment seat of God? If we achieve all our dreams and realize all our passions, yet do it all living indifferent to the Lord of heaven, earth, and all things, what will we gain once our eyes close for the final time here on earth?
Some might say that the answer to that question does not matter. Not only I, but God’s own word would disagree. It does matter, and it matters a whole lot more than the average person thinks or cares.
The Son of God, the Lord Jesus said,
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’
But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. – Luke 13:24-28
Jesus calls us to strive. Not for riches, comfort, popularity or success, but for the kingdom of God. He also mentions that there will a time when it is too late. So, the call for us is to strive right now, with no hesitation. He calls you and I to let go of striving for other things, and to seek the Lord and His kingdom. He also confirms what numerous verses in the Bible talk about: judgment and eternal hell. Many try to explain these realities away. Not because these truths do not make sense or are not just, but mainly because if they can put them out of their minds, it makes them feel better to live against or indifferent to God’s will and plan for their life. Some indirectly or unconsciously say in the heart, «I will deal with that later.» But according to Jesus, later is too late.
So, what are we striving for today? May we resolve to strive for Jesus, the door to the kingdom (John 10). He is the way, the truth, and the life, for no one can go to the Father, except through Him (John 14). And there is no other name under heaven by which one can be saved from their sin before the Holy God (Acts 4:12).
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Matthew 7:13-14 (words of Jesus)
So, what are you striving for?