16Then someone came to him and said, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22, NRSV)
What must I do to have eternal life? Seems like a legitimate question. But the rich young man asked what good deed must I do. Like there is one thing, one deed that must be done to earn eternal life. Which if that were the case, would we all be able to do that?
But Jesus says, “keep the commandments.” And this guy wants to know the loopholes and exactly what has to be done. There are a lot of commandments, so which ones do I have to keep, because all of them can’t be necessary.
So Jesus gives him some of the 10 commandments and the greatest commandment, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And according to this guy he has done all of these things and wants to know if there is anything more.
And Jesus tells him if he wants to be perfect. Not if you truly want to have eternal life, but if you want to be perfect. To me that says that he has done enough, but if you want to step it up just a little more, then go and sell everything and give the money to the poor and come and follow me. So he left sad because he could not give up his possessions. But if he continued doing what he was doing isn’t that going to help people see the love of God. Sometimes we get hung up on the I haven’t done enough when we have given just about everything. Love others and do not worry about the rest, God will take care of that.