A devotional by John Piper

Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.—Mark 10:15

The demand to strive to enter the kingdom of God through the narrow door should be heard in connection with the truth that God has already done something to make that striving full of hope and confidence. We strive not with fretting that we will not enter, but with assurance that not only will we enter, but in a decisive sense we have already entered. This may sound paradoxical: Strive to enter, for you have entered. But it is profoundly true for all who trust in Jesus.

Help for the Fainthearted

The demand of Jesus that we “strive to enter through the narrow door” is overarching. It gives a sense of urgency to all his demands. It does not refer to a class of commandments but to all of them. It is a demand that we take all his word seriously. It calls for lifelong, everyday, hour-by-hour vigilance over our thoughts and feelings and actions. Therefore, it troubles some followers of Jesus who are fainthearted. I have tried to help us all take heart. It may be practically useful to close this chapter with a summary list of ways to maintain hope and joy as we strive together to enter through the narrow door.

The Fight Is to Cherish What We Have, Not Earn What We Don’t

First, remember that the main battle is the battle to keep seeing Jesus as the supreme treasure of your life. He does not call us to fight for plastic jewels. Following Jesus is the result of finding a treasure hidden in a field—an infinitely valuable treasure. Then in our joy we gladly “let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also” to enjoy that treasure to the full. Striving to enter through the narrow door is only as hard as treasuring Jesus above all things. The battle is not to do what we don’t want, but to want what is infinitely worthy of wanting. The fight is not the oppressive struggle to earn God’s final rest, but the satisfying struggle to rest in the peace that Jesus freely gives. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). The demands of Jesus are only as hard to obey as his promises are hard to cherish and his presence is hard to treasure.

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