“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
And Jesus said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God” (Luke 18:18,19): “but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. . . . The young man saith unto him, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” (Matt. 19: 17-20).
“Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10: 21-24).
Consecrating all that we are and all that we possess to the Lord’s purposes, is the key . . . to living richly! Jesus taught this fascinating paradox:
“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 10: 38, 39).
So what does it look like to lose one’s life for His sake? This complete commitment is revealed in the way we love God and neighbor with all our heart, might, mind, strength, and soul (Deut. 6: 4, 5; Mark 12: 29-31; D&C 59: 5, 6). Losing your life for His sake means: giving everything you’ve got! This covenant of consecration is given with an eye single aim:
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. . . . No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6 22-24).
Christ taught that serving “mammon” (material wealth) is a seductive enticement that leads to double-mindedness (James 4: 7, 8). Later in His sermon on the mount, the Lord identified the goal to which an eye single aim is focused:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6: 33).
And what are the things that are “added”? Read in context, Christ is speaking of daily necessities: food, clothing, and shelter (Matt. 6: 25-32). Thus, our loving Lord takes care of us as we stay focused upon Him–the building up of His kingdom and the emulation of His righteousness.
For those individuals who are dominated and oppressed by controlling people, it may seem contrary to develop characteristics of Christlike humility and submission. It is a common therapeutic approach to teach codependent people the skills of assertiveness; indeed, learning to be assertive can be a step in the right direction in overcoming or escaping situations of control and abuse. Nevertheless, independence is not the ultimate gospel goal; instead, the divine direction is a healthy and whole interdependence–Christ calls it being “one” (John 17: 18).
“I am the true vine, . . . Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15: 1-5).
When approached as the sole goal, assertiveness training can lead to an unhealthy me-centered way of living; according to Christ, such ego-centric living is precisely how a life becomes lost (Matt. 10: 39). So we return full circle to the apparent paradox: losing your life for His sake, that you might find your life.
Any focus away from Jesus Christ, the True Vine, will disconnect you from the fullness of His life-giving light and love! Just as light bulbs only illuminate when powered by electricity; so also are you illuminated by His light, as you keep your eye single to His work and glory:
“And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C: 88: 67).
, the fulfillment of self spontaneously arises:
“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven” (D&C 6: 36, 37).