Mark 10 contains the story of the rich young man who came and asked Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments, and the young man said that he was already doing that.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, 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.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
As I read this yesterday I had a couple of different thoughts. First, I'm sure that this scripture passage that we be willing to "sell all that we have" relates to more than money or even possessions. Jesus taught that we should love the Lord more with all of our heart, mind, and soul. That means that we should not love anything more than we love the Lord. Not money or possessions or activities or even people.
But the other thought that I had was that I'm sure that the Lord expects us to be fully engaged in our lives--nurturing and caring for our families, having meaningful relationships, developing talents, finding joy in the journey.
The question that came to my mind was this--where, in the process of living these mortal lives, do we cross over the line to the place where the rich young man was? At what point does something else become more important to us than God? And how on earth do we know when it does?
I found a quote from Joseph F. Smith which is helpful to me in understanding better what Jesus asked the young man to do, and why, but I'm still wondering about the rest. How do I keep the proper perspective? How do I know if I have let something get more important to me than the Lord? Is there anything that I would not "sell, and give to the poor"? (Would he ask for my sewing machine???)
Is this because the rich man is rich? No. May not the rich man, who has the light of God in his heart, who possesses the principle and spirit of truth, and who understands the principle of God's government and law in the world, enter into the kingdom of heaven as easily, and be as acceptable there as the poor man may? Precisely. God is not a respecter of persons. 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. Here is the difficulty, and this was the difficulty with the young man. He had great possessions, and he preferred to rely upon his wealth rather than forsake all and follow Christ. If he had possessed the spirit of truth in his heart to have known the will of God, and to have loved the Lord with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, he would have said to the Lord—“Yea, Lord, I will do as you require, I will go and sell all that I have and give it to the poor.” If he had had it in his heart to do this, that alone might have been sufficient, and the demand would probably have stopped there, for undoubtedly the Lord did not deem it essential for him to go and give his riches away, or to sell his possessions and give the proceeds away, in order that he might be perfect, for that, in a measure, would have been improvident. Yet, if it had required all this to test him and to prove him, to see whether he loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself, then he ought to have been willing to do it, and if he had been he would have lacked nothing, and would have received the gift of eternal life, which is the greatest gift of God, and which can be received on no other principle than the one mentioned by Jesus to the young man. (Journal of Discourses, Volume 18, Joseph F. Smith)