I am studying the first part of the New Testament about Jesus Christ, His teachings, and the acts of His apostles. Scripture study is important for many reasons, one of which is that this study is critical to learning about the Savior and coming to know Him. We must do this study in a manner that will help us learn the doctrines of eternity and how to apply those doctrines in our own lives. I find it interesting as I study the scriptures over and over again that I see different things in the scriptures that I never saw previously. I am positive that my ability to see the new information comes from current circumstances or better preparation to do so.
In my scripture study this week I studied the story of the rich, young ruler who had kept all the commandments since he was a child and wanted to know what more he should do to inherit eternal life (Mark 10:23-27; Luke 18:24). The Savior told him to sell all his belongings and come follow Him, but the rich young ruler had too great of riches. He was unable or unwilling to dispose of his riches even to gain eternal life.
I pondered this story often during the week. I have written previously about how we often become slaves to our “stuff.” Sometimes we purchase items simply because someone else has something similar. Someone else purchases a new car, so I have to buy a new car. Sometimes we purchase objects for a specific need, such as a wedding. Other times we purchase objects because we cannot tell the difference between wants and needs.
In discussing this story with my good friend Chris, we came to the conclusion that it is okay to have stuff, but we must be careful about what we get and why we get it. We all need a warm, comfortable home to protect us from the elements of nature, but very few of us need mansions. Most of us need some sort of a vehicle, but few of us need a flashy sports car or a limousine. Some of us need warm coats, but few of us need expensive furs. Also, there is a limit as to how many shirts, skirts, dresses, or pairs of shoes or pants that a person can actually wear. If we keep our “stuff” to necessities with a few luxuries, we are probably okay. However, if we get stuff just to appear better than other people or to draw attention to ourselves, we are doing it with the wrong attitude.
The principle that I gain from this story is that I can put my trust in the Savior because “all things are possible” with Him. There are many areas of our lives where we must learn to trust the Savior, with finances being a challenging one. It is fairly easy to pay tithing (or donate to other causes) when the amount is small, but one must be truly converted to the law of tithing when paying large chunks of money. I have a testimony of tithing because I know that living this law brings blessings into my life.
Tithing is an easy law for me to live, but I would have a difficult time giving up all that I have. I came to the conclusion this week that I like my stuff. I enjoy having a piano in my house that I can play whenever I choose. I like having a warm, comfortable home where I am protected from the storms of life and nature. I prefer a car that starts when I turn the key and stops when I press on the brake. I like my computer and the ease with which I can write my thoughts, connect with other people, and search for information. I do not have a lot of fancy stuff, but I like what I have. I am not yet ready to walk away from all that I have, just as the rich, young ruler could not walk away from his great riches.
This brings me back to the principle: I can put my trust in the Savior because “all things are possible” with Him. I exercise my ability to put my trust in the Lord in numerous areas. One of my first experiences was when I put our family planning issues in the hands of God. I found that He was able to space our children much better than I could. Other times happened with ill or injured children. Placing them in the hands of God had good outcomes for me, but what would I have done if the results had been different? Each day I practice putting my trust in the Savior as I plan my day and as circumstances change during the day. I am often surprised as He reminds me of the more important things that I should be doing. This daily activity strengthens my ability to put my trust in the Lord.
As I learn to trust the Lord in all things, I suppose that one day I will be prepared to leave all my stuff behind and give my heart to the Savior completely. In the meantime, I will strive to remember that it is only stuff and that it does not hold much importance in the grand scheme of life or eternity.