Lazarus, the Rich Man, and the Bosom of Abraham (part 1)

Read Luke 16:19-31

I found three lessons in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. The first is the lesson of the greed of the rich man and the failure to be concerned with the beggar at his door. the second is the fate of the poor, sick Lazarus and the reward of God. The third is the relationship of God (AKA Abraham) with both men.

In this lesson (part 1) I want to relate to the rich man and His greed and selfishness. It is because so many people of faith have fallen for the “prosperity gospel” that I feel that it is important that we be made aware that prosperity is not that God rewards us with material wealth as some teach today but that we prosper in the Word of God. It is not with money or property that we are to be rich, because those are things of the world and the flesh, but the things of the Spirit and the Glory of God.

Amos 6:1,5-9 reads: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria, the distinguished men of the foremost nations…Who improvise to the sound of the harp, and like David have composed for themselves, Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls while they anoint themselves with finest oils, yet have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.”A clear call to those who are “comfortable’ in their walk and think that they are justified in acquiring vast wealth while at the same time, ignoring the plights of the world and thanking God they are not like the poor man in the back of the church. When John Wesley started to preach to the poor and the working masses, these self-righteous men of the church cast him out. They falsely believed that because they where rich, they were special to God and that the poor were sinners and deserved their fate. Jesus talked to the pharisees about the same thing, saying that their gift from their plenty was less to God than the meager offerings of the poor woman.

Ecclesiastes says: “There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.” (Eccl. 5:13) Proverbs 11:4 reads; “Riches do not profit in the days of wrath, But the falseness of the treacherous will destroy them.” So what benefit is there in acquiring wealth? The only reason that I find as a lover of the Salvation of Jesus, is to continue His Good Work, to share with those who are without, to uplift the broken hearted and ruined by the greed of others, to heal the sick and to provide clothing and shelter to the many who are ravaged by war and famine.

But it isn’t just his wealth that condemns this man, it is his indifference to the fate of others. He lives his live as if others are of no consequence, only what is pleasing to him is important. The will of God is the last thing that is on his mind. “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income.” Eccl. 5:10. He is like the farmer who would build more barns to hold his grain and dies the next day. Possession is the god of choice for him.

No wonder he does not see Lazarus by his door. Even If the poor lame man stood right in his path, he would not notice him except for the stench of the sores. When judgement comes to him, he would say, “What poor wretched man? When did I ignore Christ? I never saw anyone.” And yet this same man would say, “I am blessed by God because He has given me much wealth and importance.”

In the parable, he cries to Abraham to let Lazarus give him a drink across to divide and is denied. He asks that Lazarus be sent to his brothers to warn them of the fate that waits them, and is denied. He is told that even if Abraham’s son was sent, they would not listen, so why bother? Even as Christ was sent, they would not listen, they have never listened before. Even today, the self righteous, vane and corrupt “saints” among us do not listen. They continue to line their pockets with ill-gotten gains, underpay their help, over-charge the customer’s, cheat on taxes and cheat on services, all the while saying that they love the Lord and are assured a place in heaven.

They are among those who say that “once saved, always saved” but still live in the world of the flesh and serve no god but money. It will be a hard day for them when they go before judgement and Jesus says “I never knew you!” Why do these people feel that just because they say the words it is so? Can’t they understand that to be saved is a call to change? That sin is still sin and that to be among the redeemed is to become a new creation under God’s Grace? To know God is to Love God, and to love God is to obey His commandments, all of them!

I am a rich man, not because I have a lot of money, (I have very little) nor because I live in a palace, (fat chance of that) but because I have the wealth of Salvation, the Grace of Forgiveness and the Fear of the Lord. Because I revere the call to serve, love and care for my brethren regardless of whom they are; rich, poor, east, west, “Greek, Jew”, it make no difference to me, they are the same to God and therefor the same to me. I would never be a rich man because I could not give it away as fast as I think ‘god would want me to. This is why my wife has to keep the books in my house, I would always put myself last because God’s children need so much more than I could give.

Listen to what Christ tells us in this story, don’t be as the rich man. Think of others before yourselves and praise God for the opportunities to serve Him by your graciousness. Do it for God’s sake and think nothing of what it will gain you. Motive is the most important aspect of giving, not the amount but the heart in which it is given. What good is there in life if the life is without the willingness to see the plight of our neighbors in Christ. But the greater sin is not in the unwillingness to give to the needy, but the audacity to think that we can deceive God by denying others. Cheating and demeaning people and still proclaim that because we are saved we do not have consequences for our actions.

Isaiah 47:10 reads; “You were bold in your wickedness and said. ‘There is no one to see me’. That wisdom and knowledge led you astray. You said to yourself, ‘I, and none beside me’.” That wickedness that led you to think that God has forgiven you in spite of a continuing sinful nature persisting in your lives, will not be rewarded by Salvation because you reject Christ by your wicked ways. The man in the story of Jesus, ignored the commandment to love his neighbor, in fact he does not even acknowledge his existence at his door. And he is told by “Abraham” you would even reject my Son. When we reject the call of Jesus to care for the many tormented people of the world and refuse to provide comfort even to one of the lost, are we not renouncing Jesus?

The story of Lazarus and the rich man is another tale of why we are to do works for Jesus. Faith is the means of Salvation but works are the expression of the Love that God has given us to share His Love with others. listen to what Jesus is telling us and see the plights of others as the plight of Jesus. Do not think of what the future on earth will provide you for that is vanity upon vanity. Think only of what you can do for your God, in that are the only riches that you need rely on.

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