Lazarus and the Rich Man


Today, I will continue writing about what I’m calling, “Jesus’ Perspective on Giving”. This series might better have been called, “Jesus’ Perspective on Living” because the focus is more on how we live.

In this series, we have looked at the story of the widow’s mite and the story of the Rich Young Ruler. This time, we will look at a parable. The parable is found in Luke, chapter 16.

This entire chapter centers around giving and managing resources. The chapter begins with the parable of the unjust steward. While not commending the actions of a wasteful steward, Jesus condemns the actions of the children of light by saying:

For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you (it) fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.

This unjust steward had the sense to think ahead. Jesus commends this in him and says that His people are not always as good about thinking ahead as the children of darkness. To be generous with resources is a key to laying up treasures in heaven. God’s children should look ahead as the unjust steward did.

How we handle money and resources is an indicator of how we will handle spiritual responsibility.

He who is faithful in what is least (money) is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

The Pharisees loved money and derided Jesus over these teachings. How do you feel about them?
What is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

The parable of Lazarus, the beggar is set up by what we have just reviewed. 

This parable is pretty explicit in condemning greed and selfishness. We aren’t told much about the rich man; whether he went to synagogue or not. The lack of details are purposeful so that we will hone in on what we do know.

The rich man felt as if he was entitled to enjoy his wealth. After all, he earned it or maybe he said, “I’ve been blessed!” It is very interesting to me that the eternal destinies of the two men: the rich man and Lazarus are tied together. The only reason we are given by Jesus that the rich man went to hell is because he didn’t share his wealth.

Lazarus was in the rich man’s orbit. Lazarus’ predicament was obvious. He was sick due to malnutrition and exposure. We are not told anything about Lazarus’ spiritual condition. I believe that is purposeful. It is not our job to decide if the “Lazarus’” in our lives are worthy of help or not.

Just going out to speak to Lazarus about his soul and heaven was not enough. The rich man was expected to go and share practical expressions of love with Lazarus.

How can the love and care of God for the future be believed if it is not shared now in the face of real need?

Upon realizing his fate, the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to speak to them about a change in lifestyle. Could I be the “Lazarus” sent to speak to you?

Abraham said:

They have the Word of God. Let them hear it and obey.

The sobering reality is that the rich man went to hell for doing nothing more (that we know of) than being selfish and greedy with his money and resources.

If this doesn’t shake us out of our complacency and deception, I don’t know what will!

Notice what the book of James has to say about this same issue:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days.

After a warning against unjust, greedy dealings, James goes on to say:

You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter.

This is a direct condemnation of greedy hoarding.

If these passages are to be believed, then the hoarded riches we leave behind upon our death will actually be a witness against our love and liberality, not evidence of our spirituality!

Beware of those who teach contrary to the full counsel of God.

If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Is Lazarus sitting outside your gate? Find him and minister to him!

 

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