“What Shall I Do That I May Inherit Eternal Life?”
Lesson 17 – Mark 10:17-30; 12:41-44; Luke 12:13-21; 14; 16
A simple trap can be used to catch a monkey when a container is secured to the ground, and a treat (such as nuts or fruit) is placed inside. The hole in the container is large enough for a monkey’s empty hand to enter easily but too small for the monkey’s hand and the treat to come out together. A monkey sees the treat and reaches in to get it. Once the monkey grabs the treat, it will allow itself to be caught rather than let go of the treat. It will not sacrifice this prize for a greater one—its freedom, or even, perhaps, its life.
Sometimes people make mistakes similar to the monkey’s. When they obtain something appealing, they may be unwilling to let it go even if keeping it might cause then to lose something better. This lesson is about some things we may have to sacrifice in order to receive the greatest blessing: eternal life with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. We must be willing to sacrifice the things of this world to obtain a place in the kingdom of heaven.
Mark 10:17-21 tells us what Jesus said to the rich young man who asked how to receive eternal life.
Mark 10:22 The instructions saddened the young man since the Lord asked him to give up all his possessions. President Joseph F. Smith said: “The difficulty with the young man [was that] he had great possessions, and he preferred to rely upon his wealth rather than forsake all and follow Christ. … No man can obtain the gift of eternal life unless he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain it” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 261).
Mark 10:23-25 Jesus taught about the relationship between having riches and entering the kingdom of God, teaching that it is extremely hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Note that there is a difference between possessing riches and trusting in them. It is our challenge to maintain a proper attitude toward earthly possessions as taught in Mosiah 4:19, 21.
President Smith also taught: “God is not a respecter of persons. The rich man may enter into the kingdom of heaven as freely as the poor, if he will bring his heart and affections into subjection to the law of God and to the principle of truth; if he will place his affections upon God, his heart upon the truth, and his soul upon the accomplishment of God’s purposes, and not fix his affections and his hopes upon the things of the world” (Gospel Doctrine, 260-61).
Mark 12:41-44 Contrast the rich young man with the poor widow in these verses. The widow was willing to do that which the rich young man was not willing to do. She was willing to give all she had for the kingdom of God. Consider how we can develop an attitude like the poor widow’s.
Luke 12:13-15 Jesus told the man who was concerned about his inheritance that material abundance is not a worthy measure of a man’s life. He taught of the evil of covetousness. Covetousness is a strong desire for wealth or for another person’s possessions. In our society, it is easy to list things people covet today, and as we do so, we should consider the danger of coveting.
Looking at Luke 12:15, since we live in a world that often places great value on material possessions, think about how we can remember that our worth as individuals is not determined by how much we own. Consider the blessings that are more important than material possessions, and as you do so, review Luke 12:31-34 and D&C 6:7 for some examples of worthy blessings.
Luke 12:16-21 The man in the parable of the rich fool had been blessed with earthly riches.
In verses 18-21, we see that his actions demonstrated that his heart was set on his riches.
In reviewing Mosiah 4:26 and D&C 52:40, we see what he might have done with his abundance if he had been seeking heavenly, rather than earthly, treasures.
Many people set their hearts on worldly wealth even though they know it is only temporary, so we need to determine whether we are too concerned with material possessions, or if we have our priorities in line with gospel teachings.
Interpreting the parable of the great supper, Elder James E. Talmage taught that the invited guests represented the covenant people, or house of Israel. When the servant (Jesus) asked them to come to the feast (accept the gospel), they made excuses and refused to come (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 452).
Luke 14:18-21 When the Israelites made excuses and didn’t come to the feast, the Lord invited “the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind”—who did accept the invitation to come to the feast.
The parable of the great supper may apply to us if we make excuses for not feasting at the Lord’s table—for example, not reading the scriptures or going to the temple. Individually, we need to demonstrate our acceptance of the Lord’s invitation to the feast by making righteous use of our time and abilities.
Luke 14:26-33 Jesus taught that his disciples must be willing to sacrifice anything that he asks of them. Early disciples were asked to sacrifice their trades and professions, their traditions, their possessions, their friends, and even their families on occasion. Those same things are asked of some disciples today. Consider what the Lord has asked you to sacrifice and ponder how you have been blessed for making those sacrifices.
Concerning the parable of the unjust steward, Elder James E. Talmage explained that the Lord used this parable “to show the contrast between the care, thoughtfulness, and devotion of men engaged in the money-making affairs of earth, and the half hearted ways of many who are professedly striving after spiritual riches.” The Lord was not suggesting that we should emulate the evil practices of the unjust servant, but that we should seek spiritual wealth with the same eagerness and effort that the servant displayed in seeking material wealth.
Elder Talmage continued, “Worldly-minded men do not neglect provision for their future years, and often are sinfully eager to amass plenty; while the ‘children of light,’ or those who believe spiritual wealth to be above all earthly possessions, are less energetic, prudent, or wise” (Jesus the Christ, 463).
Compare the amount of time, thought, and energy you devote to accumulating money and possessions with the amount of time, thought, and energy you devote to seeking spiritual treasures. Then ask yourself—How can I become more dedicated and enthusiastic in seeking spiritual treasures?
Some principles we learn from Luke 14:12-14 about how to serve may include:
§ We should not serve with the goal of getting something in return
§ We should not limit our service to those who will repay or even thank us
True charity helps us grow closer to the Lord
To receive eternal life, we must be willing to put away the things of the world and serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. Be grateful for your earthly blessings but always strive to view them in the proper perspective.
These lessons are posted on the Internet at http://www.neumanninstitute.org