Well, Wednesday is coming upon us. That means that Fishermen’s club is taking place at Hoffmantown Kids. We have been walking through the parables of Jesus this summer. It has been neat to see what Jesus has to teach His disciples about being fishers of men. I have learned a lot and it is neat to see the kids learning so much about Christ and His ways. A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the parable of the wheat and the tares. This week, we are going to learn about Lazarus and the rich man. God has much to teach us here about how we live our daily lives. I pray that this teaching will be as helpful to you as it is to me.
The story of Lazarus and the rich man is found in Luke 16. Take a moment to read this parable and we will discuss what we learn.
I. The rich man
The first thing that we learn about this man is that he is rich and selfish. He enjoys his life and does not care much for the people around him, not even about his own family. There is poor man at his doorstep who is hungry, diseased, and in need of help. The rich man has plenty but will not even throw crumbs to the poor man. He has no compassion at all. In fact, the dogs have more compassion than he does. The knew that Lazarus was there and they knew of his discomfort. They did what they could to try and relieve his pain. The rich man is religious. He knows of Abraham, Moses, and the Prophets. He is not obedient to the Word of God and he never repents during his lifetime, although he knows what repentance is. The rich man, like all of us, experienced death. Upon his death, because he never repented and did not obey the Word of God, he was condemned to eternal torment. It is painful. It is real. It does not end. He will be there forever. This is the consequence for not repenting, not following the Word of God, and not showing compassion to his fellow man. He is not sent there because he was rich. He develops compassion for his brothers once it is too late. He had his chance and he missed it.
Lazarus is a poor man. He is not poor because of disobedience to God. He is not righteous because of his poverty. He is a follower of God. He knows Abraham, Moses, and the Prophets. He has repented and he is obedient to the Word of God. He, like all of us as well, died and entered into his eternal rest. He enters paradise, not because he was poor but because he followed God. His reward is also eternal.
III. Life lessons
What can we learn from this parable. I believe there are several life applications.
- Hear God’s Word – In order to hear God’s Word, we must open up God’s Word and read/study for ourselves. If you are not reading God’s Word and studying God’s Word for yourself, how do you expect to hear from God? If you are getting It through someone else, you are missing God’s pure Word. You are hearing God’s Word through someone else’s understanding. I imagine that the rich man had heard a lot about God’s Word from someone else. He was familiar with the stories and characters but that hearing did not lead him to repentance. Lazarus, on the other hand, did repent so it seems that he was familiar with the Word too, probably from personal reading, or having someone read It to him.
- Repent – this is a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that produces a change of action. We have to be convinced of who God is and who we are from God’s Word. We have to realize our desperate need for God and run to Him for help.
- Obey God’s Word – this is not possible on our own. When we repent, the Lord gives us His Holy Spirit which now gives us the ability to obey God and not just the desire. Obedience to God’s Word is a choice and a result at the same time. I have to choose to obey yet I have to have the Holy Spirit to be able to obey.
- Love people – love and service go hand in hand. You cannot say that you love people if you do not meet their needs. Everyone’s main need is the Gospel. To get people’s attention, meet a physical need that they have to open the door to exposing their spiritual need.
- Share God’s Word with others – use every opportunity to share the Gospel with the people around you. God is always working in people’s lives and He always orchestrates divine appointments. When you see the open door, overcome your fear and excuses and share. Be ready to disciple people when they show interest in spiritual things. Know step by step what you want to teach and most importantly, teach them how to study God’s Word for themselves instead of lecturing to them about God’s Word or sharing your wonderful “insights”. let God’s Word speak for Itself. Help people get to the point where they can hear from God’s Word directly.
What about you, my dear friend, are you obedient to the Word of God? Have you repented? Are you obedient to God? Do you love people? Do you share God’s Word with others?
May the Lord help us to learn from this parable and apply it to our own lives, learning to walk with God in obedience on a daily basis.