Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 18), (Isaiah 62), (Matthew 7)
    Today we completed reading the 3 chapters in Matthew (5,6 & 7) which comprise what we call ‘The Sermon on the Mount.’  Today’s chapter is full of challenging precepts as to the way we should live our lives.  Verses 1 to 5 are a warning about being hypocritical; how readily we human beings can see the faults in others and yet be blind to greater faults in ourselves.
    Verse 6 has caused much discussion, how do we apply it?  Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”  We notice that Jesus did not attempt to teach the religious leaders; instead he called them hypocrites, see ch. 15 v.7 and 16 v.3, and this we can accept as an indication of the kind of people he meant.
    There are several other examples of their attacks on him, and for those whose aim is to faithfully follow in their Master’s footsteps (see Peter’s words in 1 Pet. 2 v,21-25) there will be some, similar experiences.  We note that in ch. 10, where the 12 are named (v.2-4) that one of the things he says to them is, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.  If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” (v,25)
    These, with many other examples, illustrate the challenges those who genuinely follow Jesus and practice his precepts face as they walk the “narrow path”.  Verses 13 & 14 of today’s chapter sum it up, “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.”
     But it must be said, for most of the last generation or two, at least in the ‘western’ world, the path has not seemed so narrow and challenging.  This is because our society has become so tolerant of nearly every style of living, so broadminded and permissive.  But, this atmosphere is so spiritually poisonous that those who are treading the narrow way must be more on their guard than ever!
    Finally, note v.21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom … but the one who does the will of my Father … on that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy (preach) in your name … I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  They left the narrow way to create their own, maybe thinking it was better!  The true path is less and less evident in the increasing darkness of this world – an essential reason for reading God’s words ever more diligently.