APPEARANCES ARE DECEPTIVE
Lord, show me how I can use what I have to bless others in every way.
Read Luke 16:19–31
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectDo you know anyone who looks good on the outside but seems different within? Is that person you?
The Pharisees, who loved money – note it doesn’t say they were rich, just that they loved money (14) – had laughed at Jesus. His reply continues with this story of the rich man (often called Dives, the Latin for “rich man”) and Lazarus. It’s not strictly a parable as it doesn’t use everyday realities as illustrations, but it’s a powerful story.
Compare what Dives and Lazarus each had (19–21). Jesus brings out the dangers of the love of money, possessions and one’s standing in society, and how they might unintentionally cause a person to miss heaven. It’s not that Dives wasn’t generous enough with money or was lacking compassion; nor that he regarded Lazarus as being at his beck and call (24, 27). Rather, it’s his underlying attitude, which, like the Pharisees, seeks approval based on outward appearances and on human standards, not God’s. It’s not the outward appearance of poor Lazarus that admits him to heaven, either. Perhaps we need to reassess the things our culture deems desirable (19), take stock of what we have, and ask how we can use that to show others the true nature of the kingdom (31).
What do you own that you consider valuable? How important are those things to you? Do they mean anything in light of eternity? What things do you have that are eternally valuable?
Help me to live so completely in You, that were all my worldly goods removed tomorrow, I should scarcely notice the difference.