I wanted to express my heart as it pertains to something I’ve heard from LDS leaders previously — specifically because I heard it just heard it again from a member of the quorum of the 70 during this most recent General Conference.
It concerns a false interpretation of the story given in Matthew 19:
one came and said unto Jesus
what good thing shall I do
that I may have eternal life?
and Jesus said unto him
why do you call me “good“?
there is none good
and that is god
if you want to experience eternal life
then you must keep the commandments
he said unto him
do not take life
do not cheat on your spouse
do not steal
do not speak falsely
honor your parents
love your neighbor as though they were yourself
the young man said
all these things have I done since my youth
what else am I lacking?
if you want to be perfect
go and sell all that you have
and give to the poor
then you will have treasure in heaven instead
and then come and follow me
but he went away sorrowful after hearing that
because he had amassed great wealth
This is a scripture with an obvious interpretation: namely that if we want to follow Christ, we must first sell all of our material possessions and follow after Jesus. And because of that, it’s something that has always been interpreted by modern men to have “some other” application that “doesn’t apply” to us today [just so we can get away from addressing what it really means for us as a society today].
Most recently, I heard Larry Lawrence [of the Quorum of the Seventy] teach false doctrine to the saints of Christ as it relates to this topic. He said:
Let’s consider the New Testament account of the rich young ruler. He was a righteous young man who was already keeping the Ten Commandments, but he wanted to become better. His goal was eternal life.
When he met the Savior, he asked, “What lack I yet?“
Jesus answered immediately, giving counsel that was intended specifically for the rich young man. Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and … come and follow me.”
Note the part I bolded from Elder Lawrence’s talk he gave to latter-day saints. The human inclination is to read this story and ass-u-me that the counsel that Jesus gave applies only to that man in question. The proper position that a man of God would take is to let that scripture prick conscience of the people and convict us of sin, insofar as we withhold our surplus from the needy, impoverished, and destitute.
I want to state, unequivocally, by the power of the Holy Spirit which is in me — that the counsel of Jesus given to the rich, young man in Matthew 19 was not “intended specifically for the rich young man” — this is false doctrine, and what Jesus said is true for all people who want to truly follow Him.
It is true for each-and-every one of us — that if we want to experience eternal life, then we must cease to covet the abundance we have and be free-and-willing to share all that we have with the needy, impoverished, and destitute. And, if we are not willing, then we will find ourselves with the rest of the “rich men” — in hell lifting up our eyes, being in torment.
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