Joshua 10:12-43; Luke 16:19-31; Psalms 83:9-18; Proverbs 20:4-6
NT: “There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was lying at his gate. He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. ‘Father Abraham! ’ he called out, ‘Have mercy 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 flame!’ ‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’ ‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house — because I have five brothers — to warn them, so that they won’t also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31 CSB)
This story of the rich man and Lazarus was given in the context of Jesus’ talk about stewardship. The rich man lived a flamboyant lifestyle with no concern whatsoever for the sick and disabled Lazarus that was lying suffering at his gate every day. The Jewish law, had it been obeyed, would not have allowed such an injustice to continue. The Jewish prophets of old also denounced repeatedly the exploitation of the weak and vulnerable of society. By living his flamboyant lifestyle, the rich man was selfishly dismissive of both the law and the prophets for his own immediate gratification. Many people have a very careless and casual view of eternity. They will say things like, “Why would I want to go to heaven if I can spend eternity partying in hell with all my friends.” As we can see here, the afterlife for the unrighteous is no party. It is a place of endless torment and loneliness. The rich man, by dismissing the law and prophets in order to “enjoy” all life would offer him, sealed his fate for eternity. Once he died, he was beyond saving – even beyond a drip of water to momentarily ease his thirst and agony. When he asked father Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers so that they would not suffer the same fate as he, Abraham replied that they had the law and prophets. All they had to do was abide by the law and prophets and they would be spared – but if they were dismissive of the law and prophets, not even a dead man coming back to life would change their attitude toward righteousness. In fact, a man named Lazarus did come back to life, and the scribes and Pharisees wanted to kill him instead of repenting of their ways. Even Jesus raised himself up from the dead, and still His message was dismissed and rejected. Christ has provided everything we need for life and godliness through knowing Him. But if we reject everything He has provided in the name of pursuing our own happiness, we will not only end up empty handed, but eternally distant from any hope of happiness. Instead of squandering our life for immediate pleasures, we are called to steward our life well and invest our life for an eternity of returns.
Proverbs: “The slacker does not plow during planting season; at harvest time he looks, and there is nothing.” (Proverbs 20:4 CSB)
A slacker is someone who avoids what needs to be done in order to enjoy what he wants to do. A slacker is someone who is not familiar with delayed gratification, but is very familiar with delayed obligation (also known as procrastination). The Bible mentions the lazy and the slacker a lot, and it is never done so in a positive light. The rich man in Jesus’ story was a spiritual slacker. He did not “plow” and plant lasting seed during his life, and when “harvest time” came, he had nothing. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, nor is there anything wrong with being rich. The wrong comes when we faithlessly squander away this planting season called life and bear no eternal fruit.