Our circumstances in this life do not determine our circumstances in the next. Being poor does not save us any more than being rich. The rich man is excluded from the kingdom and confined to Hades, not because he was rich, but because he disregarded God’s Word and rejected Jesus. He did not love his neighbor, refusing to show mercy to those in need around him, and so failed to love God. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t think that would land him in hell, but it did. Lazarus is in the kingdom, not because he’s poor, but because he believed God’s Word and trusted in Jesus. Our circumstances don’t determine our future, but our faith or lack thereof does.
This parable is a reminder of God’s love for the older brother…Jesus keeps pursuing the Pharisees, like the Father urging them to come in and join the celebration. He wants them to be a part of the kingdom. Otherwise, Jesus would simply say nothing and leave the Pharisees to face the rich man’s fate.
God has entrusted each one of us with a certain level of riches…that may sound weird to some of us…you may not see yourself as rich, but it’s all relative. Anyway, we’ve each been entrusted with a certain amount. And each of us is responsible for how we use those riches. The way we use our stuff is a good indication of our spiritual health. Are we faithful and generous stewards who use the resources entrusted to us for kingdom purposes, or are we like the rich man, sumptuously spending on ourselves? John says it this way, “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3.17) James says, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (James 2.15-16)
Faithfulness and generosity don’t save you, but those who have experienced the faithfulness and generosity of God should show the same to others. Faithfulness and generosity are marks of kingdom citizens. Those who have experienced God’s mercy show that same mercy to others.
This parable is a warning to the five brothers…repent while there is still time. Recognize your need to be rescued, believe that Jesus can rescue you and trust Him to do so. Then you too will be ushered into the kingdom. But don’t wait. The rich man realized too late that he had pursued the wrong path. Don’t be like him. Trust in Jesus today.
Until next time…stay salty.
This post is based on a sermon from our series in the book of Luke. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster