In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (see Luke 16:19-31), Jesus contrasts the lives of two men—one rich, one desperately poor. In the absence of social welfare, community hospitals, or soup kitchens, it was a common practice for those in need, disabled, or otherwise disadvantaged, to beg outside the homes of the wealthy. It was expected that the rich would be generous in sharing a little of their wealth to alleviate the suffering. But in this story, the rich man was “selfishly indifferent to the needs of his suffering brother”. – Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 261. In life, their respective circumstances remained unchanged; but in death, as judged by God, their positions were dramatically reversed.
Compare Luke 16:19-31 with Luke 12:13-21. What are the similarities and differences between these two stories, and together what do they teach us?
There is no evidence in either of these stories that the men became rich by doing anything wrong. Perhaps they had both worked hard, managed carefully, and been blessed by God. But something seems to have gone wrong in their attitudes toward life, God, money, and others, and this cost them significantly and eternally.
Drawing from popular afterlife imagery of Jesus’ day, the story of the rich man and Lazarus teaches that the choices we make in this life matter for the next one. How we respond to those who seek or need our help is one way our choices and priorities are demonstrated. As “Abraham” points out to the suffering rich man, the Bible provides more-than-adequate direction for choosing better: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them” (Luke 16:29, NIV).
Jesus taught that the temptations of wealth—whether having it, keeping it, or seeking it—can draw us away from His kingdom, away from others and toward self-centeredness and self-reliance. Jesus called us to seek His kingdom first and to share the blessings we receive with those around us, particularly those in need.
|Whatever your financial status, how can you be careful not to let money or the love of money distort your perspective about what Christians should focus on in life?|