A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

As Jesus was continuing on His journey toward Jerusalem, a rich man approached Him asking how he might inherit eternal life. In his address, the man referred to Jesus as “Good Teacher.” Certainly, the title of “teacher” was commonly used of Jesus, but the descriptor of “good” was highly uncommon. Luke indicated the man was a ruler or leader of some kind, so he was also of high social standing. Regardless, he must have recognized that Jesus possessed some kind of special knowledge or authority, because he approached with a question about eternal life.

Seemingly sincere, the man wanted to know how he could inherit eternal life. More specifically, however, he was asking the question that so many of us do: what can I do? We know there is more than this world and this life. We know that something is required if we are to spend eternity with God. We want to know what we have to do to make that happen. Where is the checklist so we can get to work? As Luke would note a few verses later, the man was clearly devout and disciplined. He could check all the religious boxes. But he would soon find out that something was missing.

So many of us come to God looking to hold up our works, accomplishments, or religious resumes. If only God would see what we have done for Him, then He would offer us the inheritance we are looking for. We look at our lives and attempt to bargain with God. Yet, an inheritance by nature has nothing to with what we do, and everything to do with the one who gives it. Our inheritance as children of God is freely given on the basis of Christ’s blood shed for us. So, if we are looking to offer God more effort on our part, we will come up short every time. We will find ourselves asking the same question as the young ruler, looking to earn our inheritance.

  • Even if you know you can’t earn an eternal inheritance, what are some of the ways you live as if you can? How do you approach God holding up your good works as means of proving yourself?
  • How have you leaned on your own accomplishments to define your faith? How are you relying on who you can be for God instead of who you can be with Him?

Take some time to reflect on how you approach God. Repent of the ways you have relied on your works to try to earn God’s favor.