Discipline and personal growth typically don’t happen by accident. Have you ever lost track of time, looked up, and realized you were on your fifth set of burpees or your third chapter of a self-improvement book? Me neither.

On the contrary, we can stumble into detrimental situations we didn’t anticipate or desire. We pick up our phones in a moment of boredom and, before we know it, we’re thirty minutes down a YouTube or Instagram rabbit trail and we don’t even remember where we started. One Oreo turns into two, then three, then four – until we’re questioning if they should have just listed the entire package as a serving size.

There’s nothing wrong with using your phone or eating dessert, but the above example is reflective of a trap we often fall into where we’re less proactive and more reactive. We feel bored, and rather than thinking about why we’re bored, we simply turn to the first solution we can find to resolve our boredom. We feel lonely, and we think that instant gratification beats a more substantive source of connection and belonging.

If we want to live a life of obedience to God, we have to understand and respect the amount of intentionality this sort of life will require of us. Listen to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT): “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

Jesus’ point is simple – you’re not going to accidentally find yourself living a life of righteousness in the same way that you’ll find yourself headed down a social media rabbit trail or unconsciously hitting the “next episode” button as you’re watching your latest show on your favorite streaming platform. This might be true if following Jesus was the path of least resistance, but as we all understand, more effort is necessary.

To clarify, this doesn’t mean that our effort is what saves us. Throughout Scripture, the message about salvation coming by grace through faith is clear. However, the actions we take and the decisions we make reflect the degree that God’s work of salvation has impacted our hearts, and it’s by living a life that honors God that we experience the joy and fulfillment that God wants to offer us through our salvation.

The good news is that although the gate is narrow and few will find it, we know about the gate because we know Jesus. Hear what Jesus tells His disciples in John 10:7-9 (NLT): “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.”

By trusting in Jesus, we avoid the broad road that attracts many (whether intentionally or unintentionally) in favor of the narrow road that leads to life. Traveling down this road isn’t always easy, but it’s far more fulfilling and rewarding – both now and in the future.

-David Grimm