Our Savior Jesus Christ said this saying, “One thing is needful” (Luke 10:42) to us all, O Christians! Many Christians trouble themselves and take care of one thing or another, but they themselves often do not know for what they trouble themselves. The Lord warns us of this useless care and says to all, “One thing is needful.” What is it? Eternal salvation.
This is the foremost task of a Christian. With Christians, the foremost care ought to be for this. We need food, clothing, a house, and other things necessary for this life, and we also pray for this to our Heavenly Father, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). But eternal salvation is so necessary that without it everything else is as nothing. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). There is no profit, truly none, where there is no salvation.
What use is it to us if, though we gain the whole world, we lose our soul? We protect our temporal life above all things. How much more ought we to protect our eternal life, which is more precious than the whole world! Then just as for each man, his main task is his calling — as for a judge, it is to judge, for a farmer it is to farm, for a merchant it is to ply his merchandise, for a herdsman it is to her his cattle, for a teacher it is to teach, for students it is to learn, and so on — so for the Christian his foremost task should be to please God, Whom he confesses and reveres, in faith and in truth, and so to hope for and await eternal life from Him.
This is the Christian’s foremost task, care, and labor. This is the one thing needful.
Beloved Christians! We are created for not temporal but for eternal life. We are renewed unto eternal life through Holy Baptism. We are called to eternal life by the word of God. Christ the Son of God came into the world, suffered and died for the sake of our eternal life. Do you see how dear God held our eternal salvation? He created everything for the sake of it, and for the sake of it He Himself came into the world. Our foremost care and labor, then, should be for this.
Satan endeavors to steal it from us and to destroy us eternally. Then we ought not to slumber, but we should protect this priceless treasure.
But we see and sigh, that many Christians neglect this foremost task. Fornicators, adulterers, and defilers neglect it. Blasphemers and revilers neglect it. Drinkers and lovers of pleasure neglect it. Robbers, thieves, and brigands neglect it. Liars, flatterers, and hypocrites neglect it. Slanderers and accusers neglect it. All that please the world and their whims, but not God, neglect it.
All these and others like them set at naught the treasure of eternal salvation obtained by the labors, pains, suffering, and death, even death on the Cross, of Christ, the Son of God, and so they dishonor the very One Who suffered and died. Among present-day Christians, it is held to be a great thing and dear to be in honor, glory, riches, and luxury, but they hold their eternal salvation as the least of their concerns, which these other concerns should follow. Eternal salvation is “the one thing needful,” according to the words of Christ, but it is either gained or lost here. It is gained by repentance and faith; it is lost by an unrepentant life.
Listen, you sinners, and you blessed Christians, eternal salvation is for us “the one thing needful,” and it is either gained or lost here on earth. Beloved, let us deepen this in our memory. Sinners! Let us remember the vows which we made at Baptism, and let us repent, lest we appear slothful before God.
Let us remember the hour of death and repent, lest we depart this world without hope of salvation. Let us remember the Dread Judgment of Christ and repent, lest we appear there with our sins. Let us remember the sweetness of eternal life and the bitterness of eternal death, and turn to God, and propitiate Him with tears and repentance, that He open to us the doors of His loving kindness and His Eternal Kingdom.
Lord of Hosts convert us and make Thy face to shine on us and we shall be saved!
(Source: Journey to Heaven by Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk)