Money and Compassion (Luke 16:19-31)

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”  (Luke 16:19-31)

Learn it:

            This story of the rich man and Lazarus comes at the end of a section where Jesus has been talking about money and how we can have a healthy relationship with it.  In this story we read about a rich man who continually ignores Lazarus, who is a poor man, who lives outside his house.  When they both die Lazarus goes to heaven and the rich man goes to hell.  The rich man is condemned because he has a lot of wealth, but he did not steward it well and was selfish with it.  He had a hard heart, and even while he was in hell, he was still wanted Lazarus to be a servant to him.  He still had this hard heart and had no compassion. 

            Once he realizes that there is no changing his predicament, he begs Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers.  He knows their hard hearts and wants them to be spared from a life in hell.  Abraham tells him that they have, what we call, the Old Testament to read and they will be spared.  The rich man still knows that they will ignore that, and they need something spiritual to happen in order for them to change their lives.  Abraham knows their hardness of hearts will still reject the message if someone were to be raised from the dead.  The original readers of this story know that for a fact because Jesus was risen from the dead and people still rejected him! 

Live it:

            In this story we, the readers, would be the brothers of the rich man who are blessed to be able to hear his message.  It gives us the opportunity to change our lives, so we do not end up in the same place as him.  One warning to be clear is that our works do not save us.  The Bible makes that clear in other places.  This passage is about how our faith should be lived out and they should reflect his character.  The gospel of Luke talks a lot about how we need to see opportunities to be compassionate and then take action.  This passage sends a warning that if you find comfort here on earth you will not have comfort in heaven, and the opposite is true.  I ask you, how comfortable is your life?  Are there ways you can give sacrificially?  As Christians our true reward is in heaven and that is what we are living for.  How can we display that truth in our life today? 

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