The New Testament tells of a “certain ruler” who asked Jesus Christ how he could inherit eternal life. The Savior tells the ruler, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.” The man replied that he had kept all those commandments since his youth.
The Savior knew the ruler's heart, and He told the ruler that he still lacked “one thing.” Then He told him to “sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.” The man was very sad because “he was very rich.” Jesus saw the sadness on the man’s countenance and said, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:18-24). The man’s material goods apparently were more important to him than eternal life.
What was the “one thing” the Savior wanted the man to do? The Savior invited the man to become like the Lord. Other scriptures tell us a little more about what it means to follow Jesus Christ.
“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
“… Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).
King Benjamin, an ancient American prophet, taught his people, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 2:17).
There are many scriptures that teach us how to follow Jesus Christ, but these four references show the essence of His teachings. We are to treat other people the same way that we desire to be treated - with love and respect. We are to love and serve our fellow beings because this is how we serve God.
I understand a little why Heavenly Father wants us to love and serve each other. We are all His spirit children, and He loves each one of us. He wants each of us to be happy and to return to His presence. As a mother and grandmother, no one can show greater love and service to me than to love and serve my children and grandchildren.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this topic at the October 2016 General Conference. After referencing the above scriptures, Elder Hales says, “As the Savior’s latter-day disciples, we come unto Him by loving and serving God’s children. As we do, we may not be able to avoid tribulation, affliction, and suffering in the flesh, but we will suffer less spiritually. Even in our trials we can experience joy and peace.
“Our Christian love and service naturally begin in the home. Parents, you are called to be loving teachers and missionaries to your children and youth. They are our investigators. You bear the responsibility to help them become converted. In truth, all of us are seeking to be converted – which means being filled with our Savior’s love.
“As we follow Jesus Christ, His love motivates us to support each other on our mortal journey. We cannot do it alone….”
Elder Hales continues by stating that we can love and serve each other by teaching the doctrine of the Christ…. “We should not worry that we are not professionally trained gospel teachers. No training class or manual is as helpful as personally studying our scriptures, praying, pondering, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
We must keep the commandments of God just as the rich, young ruler did, but we must do more. We follow Jesus Christ when we love and serve one other and when we teach them the doctrine of Christ.