Whenever I hear the words “two roads”, my mind always goes directly to the familiar poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
As I was reading this morning in James, I realized that we are all face with an intersection like this, every day and every moment. In the gospels Jesus is clear, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Matt. 12:30, cf Luke 11:23, Mark 9:40) We are faced with the decision each moment of the day, who we will serve. Ourselves or Jesus? You may think that it’s more complicated than that, but really it’s not. Every decision we make brings someone to the forefront. When I decide to lay in bed instead of doing the many things that I have to do at home while everyone is out of the house, I am making the decision to put myself in the forefront. What I SHOULD do is get up and do the work that God has set before me as a mom and a wife and therefore putting Jesus out front. When I speed on the highway instead of obeying the speed limit set by the those God has put in authority over me, I am choosing the path to serve myself rather than glorifying God in the way I drive. I know that some of you may not share my conviction in these two areas of life, but these are things that I struggle with.
Here are a couple that may be more common, instead of taking five minutes each day to sit at God’s feet and learn from His word and pray to Him, maybe we plop infront of the TV and stare at our favorite shows for an hour or two. Or we’ve had a long week at work and were out a little late on Saturday so we choose to skip going to church and gathering with God’s people. The list goes on and I’m sure there are some things that you struggle with that I might not at this point in my life and vice versa. The point being that we make those choices so often and it’s always a battle of who are we serving…us or Him?
It’s encouraging to read that Paul struggled with this as well! Romans 7:15 says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Our battle with sin will never be over this side of heaven. If we are trusting Jesus as our Savior and Lord then we are freed from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:22). We don’t HAVE to sin! Those who don’t know Christ, know no different. Those who DO, have been blessed with His Spirit to work in us and through us to grow us for His honor and glory. We still battle because we are addicted to the sin that we used to serve. We are never done learning and never fully rid of the effects of sin on the world and those around us until we see Him face to face.
Now I know I said I was in James, and so here is the scripture that brought all this to mind. James 1:2-4 says,
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
We see here the growth process for a Christian following God’s path. Something to keep in mind when a trial comes our way 🙂
I found it interesting that not many verses later James writes,
“ But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (vv. 14-15)
This depicting the person who follows the path of serving ourselves. Am I saying that you can lose your salvation? NO WAY! “Death” comes in many forms (like the consequences of a poor decision), I am saying that our ways are not His ways and we cannot serve two masters! Joshua states it nicely,
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (24:15)
Choose “the path less traveled”…
“’Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.'” (Matthew 7:13-14)