Faith and Compassion

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]


A Different Spirit

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.

53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.

54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?

55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.

56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to savethem. And they went to another village. Lk. 9:51-56

It doesn’t take much to find yourself at odds with Jesus through carrying a different spirit than the one He carries. All you need to be is your dear old, loving self! Which, unfortunately, all of us are, to some degree. This scripture proves just that. These guys, James and John, were not the devil with horns. They were actually true, bona fide apostles of Jesus! But titles are meaningless where mean old self is in control. Without that all-important work of the cross in our hearts, even though we remain saved, yet we are as human as the meanest human being on the planet.

Let us recap what had been happening here. Apparently, Jesus had been passing through a number of villages on His way to Jerusalem. The residents of these villages probably had never seen Jesus, but they had heard of the great works that He had been doing further down the road. When He finally came to their villages, the villagers came out in force crying, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Glory, hallelujah!”

Women swooned on simply seeing Jesus. Men worshiped at His feet. Many cried tears of emotion upon seeing this glorious Man. It was a moment of joy and high emotion for everyone.

The apostles of Jesus lapped at the glory that was being poured upon Jesus – and them. They huffed and puffed with pride. There were smiles all around. This, at last, was what it meant to be an apostle of Jesus! So much attention, so much glory! Wow!! They were finally beginning to reap the fruits of their apostleship. It is clear this was what they were thinking.

They were on a high, they were on a roll. So it was, that when a certain village of the Samaritans appeared to put a halt to their roll, they did not take kindly to it.

Jesus had always sent people ahead to prepare a place for Him. I believe the reason was not selfishness on the part of Jesus. On the contrary, because Jesus traveled with such a large team (His 12 apostles and probably many more) He definitely needed preparations for these guys to eat and sleep. He did not send men ahead to prepare the townspeople to receive Him. At no time did Jesus ever think about Himself.

But every village that Jesus had passed through had received Him with chants of “Glory, glory, hallelujah!” Everyone knew who He was and His arrival was highly anticipated. But it was not to be so in one particular village.

When the messengers whom Jesus had sent to this Samaritan village entered it, no one appeared to take any notice of them. So they grabbed a megaphone and announced that they had been sent by the mighty Jesus. But people went on with their business as if they were deaf. In a desperate attempt to fire things up, the apostles started the “Glory, glory, Hallelujah” jingle. No one joined them. Not a leaf rustled. These Samaritans were not going to receive anyone whose final destination was Jerusalem, whoever he was!

The messengers came back to Jesus and the apostles with the grim news that this particular village had actually refused to receive Him. Upon hearing the news, the apostles were furious. They had just had a taste of worldly glory, and they wanted more of it. Certainly, they could not now cope with anyone who showed Jesus – and them – any form of disrespect.

That piece of news was especially galling for James and John, who had a peculiar penchant for glory. These were the two guys who would later on go to Jesus with their mother asking to have one sit at His right hand and the other at His left in His glory. Finally, unable to control themselves, James and John asked Jesus to have fire sent down from heaven to burn up these worthless Samaritans who would not bow to Him.

In other words, the lives of the Samaritans were of less value to these apostles than their own pride! And Jesus was extremely displeased. He was displeased, not at the Samaritans, but at His apostles! The Bible says that He turned and rebuked them. He told them, “You are carrying a strange spirit in you!”

We do not have to be the devil to carry a different spirit than Jesus’. All we need is to allow that nature of our old man to have the upper hand, and we have fallen. When we allow pride, arrogance and the lusts of the flesh to reign in our lives, we have fallen. We have allowed a different spirit than Christ’s to reign over us. For the Spirit of Jesus, who is the Holy Spirit Himself, is selfless, humble and loving. He does not carry the selfishness and glory-seeking that the worldly spirit does. It is the flesh which loves worldly glory. The flesh has no love in it. It will go to any extreme to fulfill its selfish desires. It will even kill.

(I have seen men of God who are so used to being called “Bishop so-and-so” that if you call them “Brother”, they consider it an insult.)

Jesus was deeply displeased with His apostles for carrying a different spirit than the one He had. He came down hard on them.He came with grace and love. They carried a spirit of carnality, and this spirit is full of murder. Jesus rebuked them sharply.

That is what God does with us when we are not carrying our cross and following Jesus’ example. God is not happy with us at all. God can only be happy with the man or woman who is daily dying to self. God is happy with the person who does not look for excuses to put away the cross of Jesus. On the contrary, God is pleased with the person who lovingly embraces the cross.

Below: We must use our freedom only to serve God and one another. 20120309-074819