When I have days where I don't read or pray as much as I usually do, does that mean I won't reach heaven?

Question:

Hey Mr. Jeffrey,

I have resolved to walk in all of God's ways, and I've been faithfully doing as best as I can. I've been behaving, but when I see places where Jesus says to strive to enter into narrow gate because many seek to enter, but will not be able to. Also He says in Revelation to hold fast so no one takes my crown. What does Jesus mean by "strive to enter?" Does He allow me to have bad days (not days where I outright sin as in the past), but where I don't read as deeply or pray as much?

I've been doing well: thinking, reading, and hearing God's Word and fervently praying, but when I have bad days, does that mean my spot in heaven is lost?


Answer:

"Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luke 13:23-24).

The Greek word agonizomai is translated as "strive." It is a word describing an athletic contest. It refers to the competition and drive to succeed. Paul talked about it in more detail when he said, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (I Corinthians 9:24-27). The point is that you can't just drift into heaven. It takes effort to get there -- lots of effort.

"Seek" translates the Greek word zeteo. It means to look around, to look for something, or to desire to have something. In this particular context Jesus is saying that many people will look for heaven, but since they don't put much effort into it, they just never manage to find it. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:45-46).

God is not looking for perfect people because none exist. The lives we see lived in the Bible are flawed people who, through faith, struggle to do as God directs. Those who remain faithful to God are called righteous by God. Learning God's word and thinking about it is important because that is what guards your heart and your mind. "Hear, my son, and accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many. I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you will not stumble. Take hold of instruction; do not let go. Guard her, for she is your life" (Proverbs 4:10-13). Notice that we don't always go at the same pace. Sometimes we run, but at other times we walk. Regardless, we are still heading toward the goal.

Stop being so hard on yourself and turning being a Christian into a seemingly impossible task. "Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: Why should you destroy yourself? Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp this, and also not remove your hand from the other; for he who fears God will escape them all" (Ecclesiastes 7:16-18).

Thank you very much! This gives me much peace.