NOT THE EASY WAY
Many of you will be familiar with the song titled “Thy Word,” written by Amy Grant. I particularly like its chorus: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”
The words are pulled from Proverbs 6:23. As beautiful and poignant as the son’gs message is, I believe it misses a key point from the scripture.
The full text, as given in the King James Version, is: For the commandment [is] a lamp; and the law [is] light; and reproofs of instruction [are] the way of life:
The NIV puts it like this: For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life,
To me, the scripture is telling us that God’s commandments are the lamp, and the light within the lamp comes from His teachings. What path is illuminated by the light from the lamp? That path, that way of life that is illuminated, is a path of correction and instruction. Or, as the KJV has it, “reproofs of instruction.”
The word translated as “reproof” in the King James means rebuke or correction. The word translated “correction” means discipline. We walk toward the Kingdom on stepping stones of correction or instruction that reproves us. Clearly, this is not always going to be a smooth, pleasant path. Who likes correction, rebuke and discipline?
The word translated “are the way” could be used for the actual path or road, or for the journey itself. I tend toward the thinking about it as the journey, because the final words of this verse – “of life” – could be translated “living.”
I think of this way: the correction, reproof, rebuke and discipline of God and of His word are the Christian’s way of living. Correction, reproof, rebuke and discipline are the Christian journey. No one makes it to the Kingdom without this continual refinement of who we are, how we think and what we do each day.
No wonder Jesus says, "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 [ESV])
Note that Jesus says “those who find it are few.” Why is that? Perhaps, it is hard to find because it is only found through the teaching and instruction of God. Or maybe it is just because people are unwilling to pick up the lamp. Or perhaps after people pick up the lamp and recognize the path of discipline and reproof and instruction, they put the lamp back down and say, “never mind.”
To find and to continually traverse along the path, we have to study His words, His teaching and instruction. The path is found by the illumination of the scriptures that teach and instruct us.
Once we find the gate, we have to acknowledge that it is “strait” – a word that means, literally to crowd or compress and figuratively to afflict. So, the gate is one that presses or afflicts us as well. In addition, the word translated “narrow” (“narrow is the path”) can also mean to trouble, afflict or suffer tribulation.
Not only is the path one of continual refinement, it is also one where we will sometimes find trouble, affliction and tribulation. Again, it is little wonder that people put down the lamp and head for the easy way?
God does not lie to us about what we face. We can be thankful for that.
How do we reconcile this with Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30 [NIV] "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."?
The way of Satan, the way of this world, the wide and easy path is far worse than the correction of God. We see this daily on the news – poverty, anger, greed, violence and murder perpetrated by the mighty of this world against the weak.
We also know, more importantly, that it would be no small tribulation to miss out on eternity in God’s Kingdom. Those of us who travel God’s pathway know that forgiveness of others heals us as well. We know that peace comes by God’s Spirit even in the most troubled times. We get to know our Savior and talk with both He and the Father. We get to benefit from a richer and happier life that comes from obeying the 10 Commandments. We are able to understand and celebrate God’s plan of salvation through the Holy Days. We get one day a week to rest from our labors. We live better lives, happier lives, more peaceful lives, even in the midst of troubles, because we have His lamp of His word and discipline and a clear view of the path to follow toward eternal life.
Most beneficial is that the penalty of our sins are washed away, never to be considered again, because Jesus our Savior has washed them away forever with His blood. This is also something that the lamp illuminates for us.
We know we live in a sin-darkened world. We need the lamp and the light of God’s word, commands and instruction. The path He leads us along is a path that is clear, though it may contain difficulties and troubles. And at the end of it is the gate we press through to obtain the Kingdom.
Though it is not easy, turn up the light each day and walk on, dear sisters, along the path of life.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.
[Luk 3:4 KJV] 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.