Shall I Do That I May Inherit Eternal Life?”
Trusting in riches can keep a person out of the kingdom of God.
Seek heavenly, rather than earthly, treasures.
Followers of Christ must be willing to forsake all to be true disciples.
Seek spiritual wealth with enthusiasm and energy.
A study of this lesson will help us understand that we must be willing to
sacrifice the things of this world to obtain a place in the kingdom of heaven.
Scripture references for study:
10:17–30; Mark 12:41–44;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 17 Handout (PDF
Trusting In Riches Can Keep A Person Out Of The Kingdom
MARK 10:17-21. A rich young man seeks Jesus to
find the path to eternal life.
When the young man asked how he might obtain eternal life, Jesus began
reciting the commandments.
The young man's response: "Master, all these have I observed from my
WHAT DID THE MASTER THEN TELL THE YOUNG MAN?
"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" (v21).
"And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had
great possessions." (v22)
WHY DO YOU THINK THE LORD ASKED HIM TO GIVE UP ALL HIS POSSESSIONS?
Joseph Smith: "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all
things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life
and salvation." (Lectures on Faith, p58)
Joseph F. Smith: "The difficulty with the young man [was that] he had
great possessions, and he preferred to rely upon his wealth rather than
forsake all and follow Christ.... No man can obtain the gift of eternal
life unless he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain
it." (Gospel Doctrine, p261)
This was a good young man. He sought to keep the commandments all his life,
but he had grown comfortable with his riches and was not willing to part
with them. When Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon saw the vision of the three degrees
of glory, they described those who would receive a terrestrial reward,
"These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were
blinded by the craftiness of men.... These are they who are not valiant
in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the
kingdom of our God" (D&C 76:79). The young man was a good person,
but was not willing to take the extra step that would bring him eternal
HOW DOES THE SAVIOR'S INSTRUCTION TO THE RICH YOUNG MAN APPLY TO US?
President Harold B. Lee spoke of a bishop who described some of the people in his
"In response to the Master,
'Come ... follow
me' (Mark 10:21), some members almost, but not quite, say, 'thou persuadest
me almost to be honest but I need extra help to pass a test.'
"Almost thou persuadest me to keep the
Sabbath day holy, but it's fun to play ball on Sunday.
"Almost thou persuadest me to love my neighbor,
but he is a rascal; to be tolerant of others' views, but they are dead
wrong; to be kind to sister, but she hit me first; to go home teaching,
but it's too cold and damp outside tonight; to pay tithes and offerings,
but we do need a new color TV set; to find the owner of a lost watch, but
no one returned the watch I lost; to pass the sacrament, but I've graduated
from the deacons now; almost thou persuadest me to be reverent, but I had
to tell my pal about my date last night; almost thou persuadest me to attend
stake leadership meeting, but I know more than the leader on that subject,
so why should I go? Thou persuadest me almost to go to sacrament meeting,
but there is going to be such an uninteresting speaker tonight. Almost!
Almost! Almost! but not quite, not able quite to reach." (Stand Ye
In Holy Places, p291)
In the case of the rich young man, he was unwilling to part with his riches.
As we review the bishop's list of "almosts" above, what are we unwilling
to part with? Is it riches? Is it our time? What about some of our habits?
This is precisely the sacrifice that we need to make.
MARK 10:23-25. Hard to trust in riches and enter
the kingdom of God.
WHAT IS THE LORD CONDEMNING? IS HE CONDEMNING RICHES?
"How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the
kingdom of God!" (v23)
Dallin H. Oaks: "In descending order of intensity, materialism may be
an obsession, a preoccupation, or merely a strong interest. Whatever its
degree, an interest becomes materialism when it is intense enough to override
priorities that should be paramount.
"From the emphasis given to this subject
in the scriptures, it appears that materialism has been one of the greatest
challenges to the children of God in all ages of time. Greed, the ugly
face of materialism in action, has been one of Satan's most effective weapons
in corrupting men and turning their hearts from God." (Pure in Heart,
Joseph F. Smith: "The rich man may enter into the kingdom of heaven
as freely as the poor, if he will bring his heart and affections into subjection
to the law of God and to the principle of truth; if he will place his affections
upon God, his heart upon the truth, and his soul upon the accomplishment
of God's purposes, and not fix his affections and his hopes upon the things
of the world." (Gospel Doctrine, p260)
The Lord is not condemning riches. He is condemning the negative attitudes
of men toward riches: greed, materialism, and trusting in riches. The Lord
would hardly condemn the means for building temples, sending missionaries
into the field, or the results of an honest day's labor. Satan uses riches
to tempt men into losing their focus on the eternal perspective.
HOW CAN WE MAINTAIN A PROPER ATTITUDE TOWARD EARTHLY POSSESSIONS?
Consider these warnings:
John Wesley (founder of Methodism): "I fear, wherever riches have increased,
the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore
I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival
of true religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce
both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as
riches increase so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its
branches." (quoted by Dallin H. Oaks, Pure In Heart, p80)
Brigham Young: "The worst fear that I have about this people is that
they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat,
and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will
stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be
true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and
yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest
people on this earth." (quoted by Dallin H Oaks, Pure In Heart, p81)
"Every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and
doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God." (D&C 82:19)
"That you may be equal in the bonds of heavenly things,
yea, and earthly things also, for the obtaining of heavenly things. For
if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly
things." (D&C 78:5-7)
We need to be willing to impart with and utilize our earthly possessions
for the benefit of others and in building the kingdom of God.
"And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are
dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto
you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall
receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one
to another." (Mosiah 4:21)
MARK 12:41-44. The widow's mite.
WHAT WAS THE WIDOW WILLING TO DO THAT THE RICH YOUNG MAN WAS NOT?
She was willing to follow the Lord's admonition to the young rich man to
"go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor." Her
heart was in the right place and the abundance of heaven was hers.
HOW CAN WE DEVELOP AN ATTITUDE LIKE THE POOR WIDOW?
If our attitude is closer to that of the rich young man rather than that
of the widow, I believe that we are not fully converted. Recall that after
King Benjamin had addressed his people, there was a great change within
in them. This was not a temporary change caused by Benjamin's great speech,
but a permanent change "because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent,
which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts" (Mosiah
Only through true conversion are we willing
to continue to live our lives in accordance with Celestial laws. As Alma
was traveling to the land of Manti, he crossed paths with the sons of Mosiah.
Alma rejoiced because they were still his brethren in the Lord
they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men
of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently,
that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given
themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of
prophecy, and the spirit of revelation" (Alma 17:2-3). If we want to
change our attitudes, we need to immerse ourselves in the work and the
word, and fast and pray, as did the sons of Mosiah.
Seek Heavenly, Rather Than Earthly Treasures
"And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak
to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. And he said unto him, Man, who made me
a judge or a divider over you? And he said unto them, Take heed, and
beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance
of the things which he possesseth." (Luke 12:13-15)
In this episode a man was hoping to use the Lord's influence to persuade
his brother to part with a portion of his inheritance which, in tradition,
belonged to the brother.
WHAT DID JESUS TELL THE MAN WHO WAS CONCERNED ABOUT IS INHERITANCE?
"Take heed, and beware of covetousness" (v14).
WHAT IS COVETOUSNESS?
A strong desire for wealth or for another person's possessions.
WHY IS IT DANGEROUS TO COVET?
As discussed earlier, this great desire for wealth can warp our priorities.
Our efforts may become focused on material objects rather than the things
It may cause us to charge or borrow to obtain these earthly desires. President
Hinckley emphasized the importance of getting out of debt
and setting our temporal houses in order. If we now continue to borrow
to obtain a boat, a big screen TV, a vacation cabin, etc., we are now
failing to comply with the counsel of a prophet.
If we continue to covet it might lead us to other sins such as theft or
other illegal activities in order to obtain that which we so desire.
The Master further counseled, "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance
of the things which he possesseth" (v15).
In a modern world that puts so much emphasis on material wealth, it is
hard to keep the Master's statement in proper perspective. We
seem to judge our success in life by how much money we earn and accumulate,
by the size and beauty of our homes, by the value and luxury of our cars
and by the vacations we take. We see boat shows, home shows, RV shows,
and travel shows. We turn on the TV and see shiny new cars, hot tubs, exotic
vacations, the lives of the rich and famous, and a dozen schemes for getting
rich and living the good life. We are influenced by this flood of materialism
that is all around us. However, the Master teaches us that this is not where we find
Spencer W. Kimball: "This nation thought it had found the abundant life
in 1929 when luxury came alike to the lowly and the well-to-do, greater
luxury than that enjoyed by early kings and emperors. We were driving our
unpaid-for autos over heavily bonded highways, en route to the bank to
make the monthly installment payments on the radio, the refrigerator, the
vacuum cleaner, on Father's new golf clubs and on Mother's new gown. Luxury-mad,
we were borrowing from and bonding the generations yet unborn that we might
have an abundance of the things which gave comfort, pleasure, and ease.
Did this increase our joy? Not at all. This was a poor substitute for the
abundant life. Crime increased, divorces were more usual, homes were broken
up. Finally, the end came to this orgy of spending. The Depression followed,
and with it came temporary heartaches, disappointment, and despair, but
after the smoke had cleared away, we found attendance at church services
increased, friendships assumed new value, fellowship of interests was the
rule, and men began to appreciate each other and again live a fuller life.
For again rang down through the centuries the words of Divinity: 'For a
man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment but seek
ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all other things
will be added unto you'." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p353)
Are things so different today than they were in 1929???
READ LUKE 12:16-21. Parable of a certain rich man.
The rich man obtained his wealth honestly, "the ground of a certain rich
man brought forth plentifully."
It is important to note that the Lord was not condemning the means of obtaining
the riches or the riches themselves.
WHAT IS THE LORD CONDEMNING?
The man's attitude towards his riches and what he was doing with them.
WHY DO MANY PEOPLE SET THEIR HEARTS ON WORLDLY WEALTH EVEN THOUGH THEY
KNOW IT IS ONLY TEMPORARY?
The man in the parable said to himself, "Soul, thou hast much goods
laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry"
(v19). This is an attitude that is pervasive in our society today. With
the advent of lotteries and get-rich-quick schemes, many dream of doing
just as the man in the parable. They want to give up the world of work
and go spend all their time relaxing, going on vacations, golfing, and spending
their life in other forms of recreation..
For most this is an illusion. Why can't we
realize what the Lord said is true? Our abundance in life is dependant
not on our material possessions, but on our spiritual possessions. Why
should we spend our life in pursuit of a mirage? And if for some reason
we achieve our material goals, will we be like the rich young man?
HOW CAN WE DETERMINE WHETHER WE ARE TO CONCERNED WITH MATERIAL POSSESSIONS?
Again, what we are concerned with is our spiritual attitudes, not the wealth
or possessions. Many have a talent for making money and have blessed the
Church and those around us with that ability. A prayerful study of the
teachings of Jesus, as found in this lesson, will help us better determine
our attitude. If we are living by the spirit, we will know where we need
HOW CAN WE BE MORE GENEROUS WITH OUR MATERIAL WEALTH AND OTHER BLESSINGS,
SUCH AS TIME AND TALENTS?
These are questions we need to ponder and pray about. We need to discuss
them in our families. We need to review our priorities.
Followers Of Christ Must Be Willing To Forsake All
To Be True Disciples
LUKE 14:16-24. Parable of the great supper.
Elder Talmage taught that the invited guest represented the covenant people,
or the house of Israel (Jesus the Christ, p452).
WHY DIDN'T THE INVITED GUESTS (ISRAELITES) COME TO THE FEAST?
They were caught up in their worldly pursuits and did not have time to come
to the great supper.
WHO ARE THE "POOR, AND THE MAIMED, AND THE HALT, AND THE BLIND"?
The humble seekers of truth.
HOW DOES THE PARABLE OF THE GREAT SUPPER APPLY TO US? WHAT EXCUSES DO WE
MAKE FOR NOT FEASTING AT THE LORD'S TABLE - FOR EXAMPLE, NOT READING THE
SCRIPTURES OR GOING TO THE TEMPLE?
LUKE 14:25-33. We must forsake all to be Christ's
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS WE ARE ASKED TO SACRIFICE?
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED FOR MAKING THESE SACRIFICES?
Joseph Smith: "For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation,
his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands,
his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life
also—counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge
of Jesus Christ—requires more than mere belief or supposition that he is doing
the will of God; but actual knowledge, realizing that, when these sufferings are
ended he will enter into eternal rest, and be a partaker of the glory of God." (Lectures on Faith, p58)
Bruce R. McConkie: "In the eternal perspective there is no such thing
as sacrifice for the gospel cause. Men may forsake what seemingly is of
great worldly worth here, but they will be rewarded with eternal riches
hereafter. They forsake friends, families, and possessions for the gospel's
sake, but they gain these same things again in far greater measure in the
mansions on high." (DNTC, 1:557)
Seek Spiritual Wealth With Enthusiasm & Energy
LUKE 16:1-13. Parable of the unjust steward.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS PARABLE?
WHAT WAS THE LORD TEACHING?
James E. Talmage: "Our Lord's purpose was to show the contrast between
the care, thoughtfulness, and devotion of men engaged in the money-making
affairs of earth, and the half-hearted ways of many who are professedly
striving after spiritual riches. Worldly-minded men do not neglect provision
for their future years, and often are sinfully eager to amass plenty; while
the 'children of light,' or those who believe spiritual wealth to be above
all earthly possessions, are less energetic, prudent, or wise....
"Emulate the unjust steward and the lovers
of mammon, not in their dishonesty, cupidity, and miserly hoarding of the
wealth that is at best but transitory, but in their zeal, forethought,
and provision for the future. Moreover, let not wealth become your master;
keep it to its place as a servant." (Jesus the Christ, pp463-464)
We need to compare the amount of time, thought, and energy we devote to
accumulating money and possessions with the amount of time, thought, and
energy we devote to seeking spiritual treasures.
"No servant 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." (Luke 16:13)
WHO DO WE SERVE?
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
We live in a world and in a time possessed with the pursuit of worldly
possessions and wealth. Increasingly, we see many around us obsessed with
accumulating the things of this world, becoming wealthier and wealthier,
pursuing recreation and ease. Such is not in the eternal scheme of things.
If we truly wish the riches of eternity, our priorities need to be different
from those in the world. We must be willing to put away the things of the
world and serve the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.
We should be grateful for our earthly blessings, but we need to view them
in their proper perspective.
Record your thoughts on the teachings of the Master on riches. Who do you
serve? In what ways can you make the seeking of eternal riches the highest
priority in your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie (DNTC).
Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith.
Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage.
Lectures On Faith by Joseph Smith.
Pure In Heart by Dallin H. Oaks.
Stand Ye In Holy Places by Harold B. Lee.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
17 March 2015