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The Difference between Wishing and Striving

An old English proverb originating in the 16th century states, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” The words relate to a bygone era, but the lesson still applies. If we want something, we have to do more than just sit around wishing for it.

We read that as Jesus was traveling from village to village teaching, that one came up to him and asked him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” Jesus answered, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” Jesus makes a distinction between seeking and striving. Seeking is like wishing, while striving requires much more effort. Many may wish for salvation but will not receive it.

If we were to ask an audience, “Do you want to be saved,” almost all will raise their hands and say, “I do.” Since so many say that they would like to be saved, why is it that so few will be? Jesus makes it very clear that most will not be eligible to receive salvation: “Enter in through the narrow gate; because wide is the gate, and broad is the way which leads to destruction, and many are those who go in through it. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

The problem is that so few of those who say, “Yes, count me in,” are willing to strive to be saved. Wishing alone will not cut it. Jesus tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom cannot be second or third on our list of priorities or we will not receive it. While salvation is the gift of God and we cannot earn it, there are requirements, and God is not going to give us the Kingdom unless we want it more than anything else in the world. Everyone wants the benefits but few are ready to pay the costs. Most folks set their sights on pleasures that they can see right now rather than the Kingdom which is, for many, out of sight and, sadly, out of mind.

What is so wonderful about the Kingdom? Paul explains, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” We have glimpses of the joys of the Kingdom age, such as, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” but we don’t know all the details. Enough is revealed to show us that the joys of our present life pale in comparison to the wonders that can be ours in the Kingdom.

If only we who really want to be saved and granted a place in the Kingdom would spend more time thinking about the Kingdom and how wonderful it will be, we would be drawn towards it and would do those things God is looking for in us to receive it. We need to eat, sleep and breathe for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ who will bestow upon us the reward of eternal life when we will live and reign with him forever. The joys of the Kingdom will be so surpassingly glorious that, as Paul points out, it will be beyond anything we have ever heard or seen or even imagined in our heart. Just think, to have an immortal body that will never be sick or discouraged and to live like that forever and ever, should thrill us so much that we will resolve not to just seek it but to earnestly strive to receive it.

We are so thankful that God actually wants us to receive the gift of the Kingdom. It seems beyond belief that we might be granted this gift. Jesus tells us, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Peter explains, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

But, there are conditions, and simply wishing so does not make it so. Peter warns us, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,” and counsels, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” The easy way is the wrong way, and most people choose it, and since we do not know when Jesus will come, we need to be actively striving to serve him, keeping on that narrow path so that we can be ready when he comes.

Peter counsels, “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” Peter concludes with a warning that we do well to take seriously: “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”

Robert J. Lloyd