According to this verse, the law is our schoolmaster. Perhaps we can think of it like this. For the first years of a child's life, the parent teaches the child rules to live properly in our world--brush teeth, take a bath, be polite, wait your turn, share with others, etc. These rules are to bring our children into compliance with society so he/she can live a good life. Note that living a good life is not devoid of suffering because suffering is part and parcel of this life, defines this life, and walks hand in hand with children as they grow to adulthood. These rules are needed for the child to meet life head-on and to be strong enough to not let life destroy them.
The law is our schoolmaster to prepare us for life, not to rule our lives with an iron fist and instill fear in us. The rules are guidelines to allow us to live our best possible lives, automatically, with no one forcing us. Most know, if they choose to know, that living out the things we have been taught by our schoolmasters (if, indeed, they taught us correctly) is the best way to live. Otherwise, our teeth will decay, our health will deteriorate, and we will not be gainfully employed. We also see this in the words of Jesus. He said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
This scripture is often used to refer to entering heaven. Nowhere does it say that "unto life" means unto heaven although I agree that if we find the right "life" here on Earth, it leads to heaven. However, by focusing this verse solely on heaven, we miss out on its core meaning--i.e., how to live the best life on Earth. This is a fine point, but one I think worth considering. Also note this part: "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction." Destruction does not necessarily equal hell, although again, it may well imply that. The core meaning is that we can, and often do, destroy our lives here on Earth. We see it daily with infidelity, drugs, alcohol, lying, gossiping, and being critical and unthankful for our blessings, to name but a few. One can but look around to see few have found true joy in life, the narrow gate, the peace that passeth understanding, and the love that flows both inward and outward. So, exactly what am I saying? Learning is not a matter of getting our sums right and being able to recite the alphabet. We attend school as a privilege so that we can prepare to "graduate" and become employed and productive. Schoolmasters do not follow us around for the rest of our lives, demanding we show our competence in our school subjects. Instead, we are free to use our education in any way we choose. We have free will and most of us are not forced down a certain vocational pathway. Some choose to squander their education, to throw away all the preparation for a life of drug or alcohol addiction, or some of us are simply lazy and do not use what we have learned. Our education, in other words, prepared us, or should have prepared us, for adulting. It is we who must do the "adulting," not someone waking us each morning, telling us to shower, driving us to our jobs, etc. In the same way, we graduated from the laws of the Bible. What we learned prepared us for adulting in a way that will lead to an abundant life, a Christian life. It is not a "narrow" way in the sense that we have schoolmasters following us around to make sure we are checking off the right boxes. (Did not murder anyone today. ✅ Took a casserole to my sick neighbor.✅) We do these things automatically, just as we brush our teeth each morning automatically because we once were under the tutelage of the law. After "graduating," we now go forth into the world and live our lives, with these concepts in place, so firmly ingrained that we should not even think of them. It is narrow in that so few get it right. In Mark 16:15, Jesus says, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. According to some, this actually means "as you go into the world." As we are living our daily lives, we preach. Often, or perhaps I should say always, it is our lives that preach the gospel, the good news. Christians should automatically share the "good news" of how to live the abundant life here upon the Earth simply by their being. We are the light shining on the hill, calling to others, as candles to moths. Remember the famous line from Field of Dreams--"If you build it, they will come"? Build your lives upon the rock, with deeply ingrained beliefs that you live out daily, and they will come. Sit and learn at the feet of the master and graduate, no longer drinking milk but eating meat. Then, we will be "adulting" in the way that leads to life, entering through the narrow gate. To my readers: I now have a newsletter/blog dedicated to my historical western romance books. This newsletter/blog will be dedicated to my Christian studies. If you wish to stay subscribed to Sheila's newsletter, you do not have to do a thing! If you wish to unsubscribe, there is a link below for you to do so. You should be receiving a newsletter soon from Abagail Eldan. Again, if you do not wish to receive it, please hit the link to unsubscribe. If you wish to receive both newsletters, you are subscribed to both. Thank you for your continued support! ~ Sheila (Abagail Eldan, pen name)