Ignoring Lazarus

Jesus tells a parable about a poor invalid, a beggar named Lazarus, who was placed by the gate of a wealthy man (Luke 16:19-31). Apparently the beggar was brought there by someone who thought that the rich man would have compassion on the poor man and Lazarus would be helped.

     Lazarus was hungry, desiring to be fed from only the crumbs from the rich man’s table. He needed medical attention too, but only the dogs came to lick his sores.

     We are not told how many long hours or days Lazarus spent within the rich man’s view waiting for help that never arrived. We are not told how often the rich man passed by, or how many times the wealthy man avoided the beggar’s pleading eyes.

     Then one day the beggar died and was carried by the angels into paradise. Was the rich man relieved that the beggar’s convicting presence was no longer at his gate?

     Shortly afterward the rich man died too, was merely buried and went to hell.

     In his torment he cried out for mercy, but received none, reaping what he had sown (Galatians 6:7). He begged then that Lazarus would be sent to warn his family of the reality of hell and was told by Abraham that they had the word of God; Moses and the prophets.

     But the rich man argued that if Lazarus came from the dead, they would repent.

     Then Abraham said, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”

     There are multitudes of scriptures laced throughout God’s word that instruct us how we should view and treat the poor in our midst. Do we allow the word of God to be an influence upon us concerning how we view the poor?

     Did the rich man refuse to help Lazarus because he somehow thought the beggar did something to deserve his condition? God anticipated that response when He admonishes us not to judge (Matthew 7:1-5). There are some who refuse to help those they see as being in rebellion to God, yet these same ones who judge the poor can harbor inner attitudes and heart conditions that God deems just as rebellious. For man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. – I Samuel 16:7.

     Today, Lazarus is waiting outside our gates holding a cardboard plea for help. And those who have received the treasure of God’s word are instructed not to horde wealth, but share it along with the life changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. We dare not view Lazarus with contempt when God sees him as a valuable treasure Jesus died for and rose from the dead to save.

     Jesus is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13). We have been given the fulfillment of Moses and the Prophets. We now have the testimony of One who really did rise from the dead to show us the reality of heaven and hell. We have been given the truth of God’s word, and like the rich man in Jesus’ parable we are without excuse. We ignore Lazarus at our own peril.

Copyright 2011 by H. D. Shively

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