Money can mess you up…
Jesus had been teaching that our use of our resources is an indicator of where our true loyalties lie. Now He tells the story of two men, examples of one who is ruled by God and one who is ruled by money. Wealth isn’t bad in itself; it is what we do with it that matters.
The first man is rich, but self-indulgent, with a need to impress people with his wealth. He always dressed up and had great feasts every day. Lazarus, the second man, was poor and sick. The people of the community had laid him by the gate of the rich man, in hopes that he or his guests might show Lazarus some kindness. The rich man’s guard dogs are fed, but Lazarus goes hungry. Yet while the rich people wouldn’t help, even the dogs realize that Lazarus needed some mercy. The poor, sick man doesn’t grumble against the rich people or God. The longsuffering Lazarus entrusts his soul to his faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19).
The scene changes, as both men have died, yet they have wound up in different places. The rich man recognizes Lazarus and still despises the poor man! He had known about Lazarus all along and chose to do nothing for him. But now the tables are turned, and yet the tormented rich man wants Abraham to get the comforted poor man to serve him!
Lazarus might be expected to give the rich man “a piece of his mind”, but he remains quiet. His faithful patience has paid off; he has no vengeance in mind.
Jesus clearly taught the deceitfulness of riches to those who trust in material wealth. What we do with our possessions influences every area of our lives. Having pride in position and possessions blinds people to the greater realities of grace. No sign or wonder, even someone coming back from the grave as some sort of “gospel ghost” can change people’s hearts if they reject the warnings and wisdom of the Word of God. People who reject the Gospel will be in eternal torment, and their condition cannot be remedied.