Luke 16:19-21, There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
It is very interesting, actually, more than interesting to be honest, that after dealing with the Father’s heart for the poor (Luke 14), the Father’s heart for the lost and wayward (Luke 15), the importance of wise stewardship (Luke 16:1-13), and our Lord condemning the religious leaders for their sin of covetousness (Luke 16:14-15), that we find the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).
You have to wonder if there might not be a lesson or two or three in there for even the best of us. This would especially be true of those who have been so enormously blessed in the West. The vast majority of the world (almost half the world lives on less than $2 per day) would be symbolized in this story by the poor beggar Lazarus. Whether we choose to admit it or not, we would be the rich man!
Concerning our coldness and callousness towards the poor and the needy, both among us and around the world, in his book, Radical: Taking back Your faith from the American Dream, which I highly recommend every Christian read, David Platt writes:
We look back on slave-owning churchgoers of 150 years ago and ask, “How could they have treated their fellow human beings that way?” I wonder if followers of Christ 150 years from now will look back at Christians in America today and ask, “How could they live in such big houses? How could they drive such nice cars and wear such nice clothes? How could they live in such affluence while thousands of children were dying because they didn’t have food and water? How could they go on with their lives as though the billions of poor didn’t even exist?”
Those are harsh words, I know. They are words that are tough to swallow, but are worth pondering. Platt also wrote:
“I am convinced that we as Christ followers in American churches have embraced values and ideas that are not only unbiblical but that actually contradict the gospel we claim to believe.”
I think this is often especially true when it comes to our attitude towards the poor and the needy among us and around the world. It’s interesting in this story that Jesus didn’t condemn the beggar, but the rich man. I wonder who we would tend to be the most critical of?
Deuteronomy 15:10-11, Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. 11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
Just reflecting on those red letters of Jesus!