One scripture character I like is the rich young man who approached the Savior to learn what he could do to gain eternal life. “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And [Jesus] said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He [the young man] saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder…Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Matt. 19:16-19). The Savior taught two important lessons. First, that He was distinct from His Father. Second, the way to eternal life is to keep the commandments (this does not minimize the atonement of the Savior).
Here’s the young man’s reply to the Savior: “All these thing have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” He honestly answered the Savior; he was a good person. Jesus knew the young man’s heart: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.” (Matt. 19:20-22). In Mark it reads, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest…” (Mark 10:21). The Savior saw the young man’s heart and honesty. This is someone who truly was a good person. However, he had one main problem, he loved his riches. Why is a love of riches contrary to eternal life?
Loving riches is a sign of pride. Loving riches is having a god before the One True God. It is worshiping at the haughty altars of Mammon instead of with the humble followers of Christ. If someone loves their riches, they are unable to consecrate their all to the Lord. This consecration is necessary to enter into the kingdom.
I like to believe that this young man later repented and followed the Savior. He may not have – there are many good people who are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices that are required by the Savior – but I like to be optimistic. He was a good person who let his trust in money overpower his trust in the gospel and in the Savior. I like this story because it helps me keep worldly goods in perspective. Those who love money – whether they have it or not – have a hard time fully living the gospel and making the sacrifices required of them.