“What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” This question is incredibly important, and those who ask it genuinely seeking an answer have already started down the right track. They have acknowledged there is eternal life and not everyone gets there. Some will have eternal suffering instead. Let us review how Jesus answers this question when a rich young man asks Him.
The Rich Young Ruler
17As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 18And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. 19“You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’” 20And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” 21Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
23And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” 24The disciples were amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?” 27Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
28Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. 31“But many who are first will be last, and the last, first.”
The rich young ruler was not far from the kingdom of heaven. He knew the commandments and he knew Jesus was the right person to ask. Clearly he did not fully understand the significance of obeying the commandments, as he felt that he had obeyed them sufficiently well throughout his life. None can truly accomplish this, when we fully consider how to apply this law according to Jesus, Himself (Matthew 5:21-48). However, he was looking in the right places for the answer.
Jesus did not even break stride in the conversation to explain what it means to truly follow the full standard of God’s commandments. He already knew where the man was failing in his devotion to God. For this specific individual, it was love of money. Jesus never called everyone to give away their money, it is not required. He knew this individual had that as his primary remaining barrier to following God. Sadly, the man went away grieving rather than following after Jesus.
Jesus, never wanting to let a teaching opportunity by wasted, spoke further with His disciples on the subject. He pointed out how hard it is for many that have money to choose to serve God instead of money. We can not serve both (Matthew 6:24). However, there is hope. No matter what personal obstacle stands in our way, we have hope with God that we can overcome it and follow Jesus.
27Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
We can also be encouraged that whatever it is that we give up in order to follow Jesus, we will not regret it. We will be rewarded for our devotion and loyalty to God, more than we could imagine.
[This article was developed in partnership with HearingFromJesus.org.]
Remember that all you have belongs to God. Manage your money God’s way and use it for His glory rather than your own. Visit GrowGodsMoney.org .