Don't Neglect Your Lazarus
What Are You Waiting For?
Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, "Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap."
God, through Solomon, warns against delaying to do good. When you read the story Jesus told of the rich man in Luke 16:19, do you tend to vilify the rich man to the point of describing him as a hard-hearted, mean tempered scoundrel? That's the way most people like to picture him. That way, it makes it easier to convince themselves that they are nothing like him.
But the more I study, the clearer it becomes that Jesus condemned this man's soul to Hell for three reasons:
1) Jesus said that the sin of the rich man was that he was rich. How rich and compared to whom? Was it wrong for him to have a nice home? Many christians have nice homes. He had a gate to keep out intruders. Many christians have a variety of methods to protect themselves and their families. He had heat if he or his servants gathered enough wood, and light at night if he bought enough olive oil to burn. Most homes today have a unit that heats and cools every room, and enough lights to make it possible to see well enough to read small print any time of night.
2) The second sin that Jesus accused the rich man of was that he clothed himself in purple and fine linen. Jesus did not say he stole the clothes or used them in some way to corrupt other people. Purple back then was expensive. But Jesus did not say that he was extravagant beyond his income. The rich man was clothed in the finest of his day. So are many christians today.
3) Jesus' third accusation was that "He faired sumptuously every day." I cannot find that he was denied anything by the law of Moses except eating and drinking to excess. Verse 19 does say that he ate well "every day." So, he might not have fasted as many times in the week as he should have. How many meals have we gone without lately?
So, to sum up the faults of the rich man -
1) He lived well
2) He dressed well
3) He ate well
This is not the villain most would like to make him out to be. He was probably very prominent in the local synagogue. To tell the truth, he is the guy that every church organization that I've known was looking for. He looks good...smells good...eats good, and has money to support the programs that he can get the credit for funding. Well, what label can I pin on him?
In verse 25, when Abraham talked to the rich man while he was in torment, he did not make any charges against him. He simply said....."REMEMBER."
He received the things he thought were "good." He denied himself nothing that he felt could make him happy in his chosen "lifestyle."
Most will read the story of the rich man and Lazarus and see the rich man as a monster. They'll feel grateful that they are nothing like him and could never be anything like him. Instead, the man Jesus describes here is an indolent man. (Indolence: Inactivity resulting from a dislike of work) The rich man was in Hell because he had been inactive due to his dislike of the work. But we cannot automatically assume he was lazy. He was rich...He had stuff...He enjoyed his stuff. But, when it came to his work concerning Lazarus, he was inactive because he did not like the work it took to meet the needs of Lazarus.
I hope I've created enough reason here for the learned to reconsider the popular view on this important Bible story. But, the truth is, Lazarus did not need the rich man...The rich man needed Lazarus. Before I'm accused of promoting a "works" salvation, hear me out. The fact that Lazarus is in Heaven with righteous Abraham means that his time here could not have been improved upon. If the rich man had intervened and sustained him, his arrival in Heaven would have merely been delayed. The rich man needed Lazarus to tug at his heart, to see if he loved as Jesus loves.
Today, with the prosperity message so prevalent, may we heed the story Jesus told of the rich man and Lazarus. Can we remain inactive? Do we love our possessions more than our Lazarus?
The rich man's crime was that he did not want to act for the benefit of Lazarus. He would lose time and assets in this life if he helped Lazarus. Jesus did not accuse the rich man of wasting time and money on entertainment, clothes and food. The man's crime was that his mind was so far removed from God's will by his own life interests, that he did not WANT to help anyone.
When we can ride by our Lazarus on the way to a concert, a movie, a church, dinner, vacation...and not be compelled to action, we'd better at once petition God for his will to override our own.
There are a host of reasons not to become involved, but the primary reason most use is, "I don't know if this is the right one." Satan is satisfied if you just don't do it...TODAY!
Remember Ecclesiastes 11:4. If we wait for just the right conditions, we will not sow or reap.If I neglect my Lazarus, he will still get to Heaven. If I neglect him long enough, I will not even see him anymore. After a while, even the tug at the heart will go away and I can enjoy the pleasure of this life...
FOR A SEASON.
(This was written by my good husband on 7-29-12.)