What can we learn from Lazarus?

Being out of psychiatric hospital and living back in the community is a real blessing.   I am lucky to have a roof over my head in a nice house with friendly housemates and a clean bright room, praise God!

As I settle into my new home I am endeavouring to make plans that will make my life fruitful, Godly, and fulfilling.  With this in mind I ordered a One Year Bible from Amazon recently and it arrived today.  If you don’t know what this is, it is basically the whole Bible divided up into 365 daily readings, each day containing a reading from Psalms or Proverbs, an Old Testament reading, and a New Testament reading.  It’s a great way to focus the mind on regular Bible study without causing one to feel daunted.

Today’s New Testament reading was ‘The Rich Man and Lazarus’ from the book of Luke.  The story essentially goes like this.  There was a rich man who lived in luxury every day, and a beggar called Lazarus who lived as a homeless person at the gate of the rich man’s house.  Lazarus lived in poverty, eating only the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.  The earthly existence of these two men is in stark contrast.

We are told that both men eventually passed away, and the poor man went to heaven and the rich man went to hell.  The rich man was in agony in hell and started to think of his family who were still alive on earth.  He spoke to Abraham, who was in heaven with Lazarus, and asked that Lazarus be sent to his family to warn them of the torments that he was suffering after living his luxurious life.  He hoped that they might be saved from similar torment.

The passage made me think about how I live my own life.  In my own philosophical writings I have discussed the possibility that perhaps Almighty God, in His mercy, is a fair God.  By fair, I mean that maybe God allots a similar amount of suffering to everyone, if we take into consideration life before birth and after death.  So maybe those suffering a lot in this life find mercy in the next, and vice versa.

I suppose the passage about Lazarus is a warning.  If we feel richly blessed in this life, we must be very careful.  For a start, we must not take our riches for granted, and we must always be seeking to help others by giving what we have away.  We must have compassion on those who are homeless and needy, and not store up riches on earth.  After all, an eternity in hell after death is no doubt far worse than living an earthly life of poverty.

The book of Matthew says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20)  And in Matthew 19:24 we read the following: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

It is true that as Christians we can claim a life of abundant blessing because of the cross and what Jesus did for us.  But I believe that our abundance should be spiritual rather than material.  We must always use our resources to help other people, and we should embrace poverty and respect those who are disadvantaged in society.

My prayer today is that the Lord would direct me in matters of richness and poverty.  I pray that I might use all of my resources to be a blessing to others, and never cling to my worldly possessions.  As a start, I am going to consider selling a lot more things on Ebay, giving away clothes, and using my savings wisely.  I am already donating to five charities each month, and I give money to the church regularly as well.  I recently spoke to a pastor at my church and suggested that all the pastors should buy their clothes from charity shops in order to set a good example.

I am sure there is much more I can do, and I will pray to the Lord for guidance.

Do you consider yourself to be rich?  Are you taking steps to avoid suffering a similar fate to the rich man in the story?

2 comments

  1. Often the vicars and pastors live well above the poverty line. I dont know about you but my income is so small, I receive income support. I too am able to give on accasion to charity, but would like to invest more into my art. My art is praising the Lord and will continue to do so as I have breath. Keep up your good work, my brother in Christ.
    l

  2. It is my belief that money is a trust from the Lord. He doesn’t give to me so I can merely spend it on myself. I’m the steward, and need to be ready to pass on what He’s provided to those who are in need (and frequently do). Like you, I purchase nearly everything from thrift shops. About the only thing my husband insists I purchase “new” is food. (Somehow recycled food just doesn’t work for us! ;)).

    It hasn’t always been like this, though. For quite a while we were stuck in the “stuff makes me important” mindset. What a miserable way to live. I prefer to give what I have and make deposits into my ERA (Eternal Retirement Account) – and not an IRA!

    Thanks for this excellent message. May more people follow your example.
    \o/

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