A Lesson From The Rich Young Man: Learning to Give it All Away

To the Rich Young Man:


I’m sorry.


I’m sorry for assuming that you were unwilling to “sell all thou hast and give to the poor”.

As the story goes, you went away sorrowfully, upon hearing the request, because you had great possessions.



16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?


17 And he said unto him, Why callest though me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.


18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,


19 Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?


21 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.


22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19: 16-23)


You sound like a wonderful person, Rich Young Man–faithful in keeping the commandments of God.


Perhaps you just needed some time to process the request before making a final decision.


I think I know how you may have felt, Rich Young Man, for I, too, have great possessions–one of which is a summer cottage in Babylon.



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My summer cottage is filled with many hard-earned possessions and cherished memories.

It is a beautiful place where I enjoy spending my summer months.

The location isn’t the best, but if I keep the windows shut and the blinds closed I’m hardly aware of the filth and depravity that surround me.

Occasionally, I’ll wander out of my cottage to meet up with friends and do a little window shopping in town where there are so many tempting and alluring things to observe.

I never indulge in anything–well, almost never–but I figure it’s okay since I’m only here during the summer months.

Besides, it feels good to fit in with the crowd on occasion. After all, isn’t tolerance a form of loving your neighbor as yourself?



As you can see, Young Rich Man, I love my cottage, which is why when I heard Neal Maxwell say, “it’s time to give up the summer cottage in Babylon”, I felt myself cower a bit.


“What do you mean ‘give up my cottage’? I thought to myself.


I had worked hard to obtain my cottage and make it beautiful.


It is filled with countless treasures and cherished memories.


I dedicate nine months out of the year to supporting myself and building the Kingdom of God; I need a place to relax during the summer months.




“Ok, how about this…what if I spend less time at the cottage? Two months instead of three?”


“I’ll try to be a better person when I’m there!”


“I’ll serve others…I’ll be a missionary!”


“I’ll be a light shining in their darkness!”


“I promise not to be tempted by sin.”


“I’ll stay in my cottage and never leave…?”




“My friends there need me.”


“I need them.”




Every possible justification enters my mind.


Before I realize it, I find myself walking away…sorrowfully.


Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4: 7-8)



Rich Young Man, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if you ultimately decided to sell all that thou hast and give it to the poor, just as I hope to one day give up my summer cottage in Babylon.


But I understand it’s a process.


Allowing ourselves to die to the things of the world is a process–at times, a slow and painful one.


I can genuinely understand why it was difficult for you to desire to sell all that thou hast.


In my mind’s eye, I envision myself, as clear as day, walking up to you in your sorrowful state, putting my arm around your shoulder, and saying, as I look longingly at my summer cottage,


“I feel for you, Brother. I feel for you.”


What are you holding back? What needs to happen for you to give it all away?


David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, wrote a book that has inspired me to give more away: Giving It All Away…And Getting It All Back Again.

You can learn more about my experience with the book here. It has become one of my all-time favorite reads!


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