19 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.
22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Lk. 16:19-25
Notice here that one man “was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day”; while his neighbor was daily “laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.”
Now, the Bible here does not say that Lazarus was born again and that the rich man was not. It could well be that the rich man was also saved. But there is no doubt that Lazarus lived a life that pleased God.
The accusation against the rich man, on the other hand (vs. 19-21), involves how he treated his neighbor, Lazarus. It appears that he lived a selfish, unloving life. He did not love or show compassion to his neighbor, Lazarus, who was poor.
Even Abraham accuses him of only this sin:
“Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
God is not envious of us when we prosper. I haven’t heard of a father who is envious when his children prosper. God is the Father of fathers and He is happy when we prosper, even in material things.
But, in countless scriptures, God tells us how we ought to live our lives with the less fortunate in a manner that testifies of our faith in Him.
When we get to heaven, we will not just walk up to God and tell Him, “Lord, you know that on such and such a date I believed in Jesus and I got saved”.
That salvation script won’t work. What will happen is, God will bring out a rap sheet of your lifestyle. He will say, “Let us see your works.”
The Bible, in the Book of James, talks about faith without works.
“14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (Jam. 2:14-17)
Are you saved? Don’t get complacent; Judgement Day is coming. Get out there and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12)
Working out our salvation incudes how we live with the less fortunate. We are stewards of whatever God has given us. One day, we will give an account to God.
All that the rich man would allow the beggar, Lazarus, to have of his sumptuous fare were the crumbs that fell from his table! When we read this, we can think of any number of scenarios that could have been coursing through the rich man’s mind whenever he thought of Lazarus.
Scenario no. 1: He probably considered Lazarus a loser. In today’s church parlance, he would have said Lazarus was cursed. A child of God a beggar? Impossible! The fellow needed a ‘deliverance’ session.
Scenario no. 2: Or, he considered Lazarus plain lazy. Yes, Lazarus was a dirty, lazy beggar. His sores most likely were caused by an unhygienic lifestyle. The rich man therefore gave his security detail strict instructions to keep Lazarus locked out of his compound. He intelligently surmised that if Lazarus so much as set a foot within, something worse than the bubonic plague could erupt right inside his home, and he and his entire family could die.
I once heard a preacher say that he handles only clean, brand new dollar bills. He said something about having a phobia of all the germs that one can easily collect from touching old, dirty bills.
Just like Lazarus’s benefactor, this preacher was also a very intelligent man. But I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes when God shows up.
We should be careful how we handle people, especially God’s people. We should not call them names like “lazy” when we don’t even know – or care – what they are going through. The Bible faults us when we carry this very uncharitable attitude. Colossians 3:12 says:
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering…”
We ought never to forget that Christ died; and that He died for these very people. It is for this reason that we cannot despise or mistreat people, least of all God’s people.
I believe it was this very sin that took the rich man to hell.
[STOP being merely religious and reconsider your WAYS with regard to God’s people while you still have the time]