|The Rich Young Ruler by Liz Lemon Swindle|
First, the young man was seeking what he desired. Matthew records, "And, behold, one came and said unto [Christ], Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Sincere desire is a first step in following Christ. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness," the Savior promised, "for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). Do we seek after the blessings we want from God as actively and as often as we seek for a sandwich or a cup of water? This is the first lesson.
The Savior responded to the young man's inquiry:
And he said unto him... if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and they mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Many of us would be content with this answer. The young man, evaluating himself, pressed for more, "All these things have I kept from my youth up," he continued, "What lack I yet?"
How often do we forfeit blessings because we stop asking for them? Are we satisfied with a surface-level answer or do we dig for how we can be better? And are we willing to sacrifice to make up for what we lack? This is the second lesson.
Again, the Lord, who knows all of our hearts, responded to the young man's inquiry:
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect,go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:16-23).
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven," the Savior taught on another occasion, "but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). The apostle James, a half-brother of Jesus', added, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26).
We must ask a question to receive an answer. We have to actively seek for blessings to find them. If we desire to enter into heaven, we must learn how to knock on the door and enter in by the way (see Matthew 7:7).
The need for faith and works to obtain the blessings we desire is frequently demonstrated in scripture. When his steel bow broke, leaving his family without a way to find food, Nephi prayed for the Lord's help and then started crafting a wooden bow. When he had done all he could, the Lord showed him where to find game in the desert (see 1 Nephi 16).
Moses was commanded to free his people and wanted to obey. Facing the pharaoh was a perilous task, but he had trust in God and acted on the direction he received. His faith and works contributed to parting the Red Sea and other mighty miracles.
For those seeking blessings of health, the Lord instructs, "And whosoever among you are sick, and... believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food... And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name" (D&C 42:43). Blessings of healing include asking God and pursuing medical treatment.
Knowledge and learning requires faith and works. "Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom," the Lord commands, "yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith" (D&C 88:118). When we do all we can, the Lord will multiply our efforts. This is the lesson the rich young ruler missed.
With the advantage of hindsight, we can learn from the Savior's encounter with the rich young ruler. We can remember that we find the things we seek most diligently, so we should seek the kingdom of God like a starving person seeks a meal; We can learn to ask probing questions of ourselves and the Lord in order to find where we can improve and better qualify ourselves for salvation; And we can learn to follow through on the knowledge we receive from God by doing all we can to receive the blessings we desire.