What we can learn from the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus?
The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus described in Luke 16 is an interesting story, at the same time, it is also very thought provoking.
We could learn a few things from this parable, especially about:
- The importance of being kind to the people who are going through suffering.
- The Importance of Being good stewards of the riches that God has blessed us with.
- The Importance of being patient while going through sufferings.
We live in a fallen world that is saturated with sin and suffering. We see a lot of people around us suffering for various reasons. Some might be suffering because of their own faults and some might be because of the circumstances or the faults of others.
Anyway, one thing I understand is; we all pass through some kind of suffering during our journey on this planet earth. But surely there is an eternal purpose behind those sufferings.
Moreover, sufferings and hardships are something that we all go through irrespective of our spiritual status, both good people and bad people suffer.
But sometimes we find many people going through sufferings disproportionately; i.e. Their whole life, like Lazarus, is full of suffering. From a worldly perspective, we consider these people as the unlucky ones or the ones without God’s favour in their lives.
But how does God look at the sufferings that people go through for reasons that are not of their own making?
Does heaven take note of them and reward these people with a double portion of blessings? We will get an answer from Luke 16.
When we look around us, we could find that Some are born to be rich and some are born to be poor, some are born to be sick and some are born to be healthy. Some are born in the midst of many relatives, but some are born as orphans. Some get plenty of opportunities to change their adverse situations but some get none. So, we see inequalities and differences in every facet of life on this planet earth.
After I became a born-again believer I often think about these inequalities and the problems originating as a result of these inequalities. But, from my observation what I find is: many of these inequalities are the result of man’s greed and selfishness. It is all because; man is not willing to share and care for others with the resources they have in their hands.
Many in the society think and behave like the Rich Man in the story; this includes many of the so-called born-again believers. They, like the pharisees, perform all the religious rituals on Sundays but are not generous or caring towards the poor.
It is true that death, pain and suffering entered this world, following the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. But even in this sinful, fallen world we see the degree or the extent of sufferings and hardships that people go through vary from person to person.
If I take the people in my community or congregation as an example, I could find that; some do not have any issues in their lives, the river of life for them flows smoothly. While others are going through hardships as a result of sickness, poverty and social and religious problems.
Also, another thing that I notice among the people who suffer is: most of them suffer for reasons that are not of their own making. So, I always wonder:
“Why God allows these sufferings in our lives? Is it because He wants to reward us with great blessings?
From the Scriptures we do understand that God treats everybody equally and rewards everyone with fairness. There is no inequality or injustice in His Kingdom.
But, in many cases God’s mercy, justice and righteousness may take time to be manifested. For God – There is a time for everything; things often materialise at his time and place and according to His Will and purpose.
But, we, human beings, because of our fallen nature, fail to understand these things. We always use things in this earthly life as a benchmark to judge everything happening under the sun. But God’s Word says:
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, ”declares the Lord.9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55, 8-9)
When I look back at my life, I could find that I had my share of sufferings too and still have in certain areas. The main reason for my hardships in my childhood was poverty, but the LORD Almighty brought changes in my situation and blessed me materially. But these days I face a different type of challenge – I often have to deal with issues related to health.
Anyway, in the midst of all these things God Almighty has really been good to me. Though, sometimes it seemed like I am walking through a desert, the journey has been quite satisfactory. God’s mighty hands have always guided me, just as He guided the Israelites through the desert.
God Almighty has always been with me at every point of my need, each time when I cried out, He heard my cry and answered me. Above everything, He brought me into the eternal Kingdom of His Son Jesus Christ.
So, definitely I have every reason to boldly say that; God Almighty has been good and fair to me all these years and I am sure His goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life even unto the whole eternity.
However, the experience of many believers might be different, they may hesitate to boldly say that:
“The LORD Almighty has been good to me”
They may not see any visible manifestation of God’s love or care in their lives yet. Even in my life I had a similar experience at some point in my walk with God. But as time passed things changed , God worked behind the scenes, though I did not see His Footprints.
Saints, we worship a God who loves and cares for us, no matter what you are going through, do not lose hope, He will bring you out of the difficult situation that you are in. He will surely deliver you and reward you with a double portion of blessings.
However, the story of Lazarus is a bit different. First, let us read through the story.
19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and 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. 23In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So 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.’
From the story what we understand is: Lazarus went through sufferings, his whole life, there was no change in his situation. His reward and blessings came in a different realm, but surely God blessed him with a double portion of blessings for the sufferings he went through on earth.
I don’t understand what really prompted Lord Jesus to share this parable with his audience. Anyway, I think He was trying to drive home the points that:
- Riches come with great responsibility and if we handle the God-given riches for our own selfish pleasures, it might lead to eternal condemnation.
- If God allows sufferings in your life, definitely HE will also bless you abundantly with Eternal Blessings.
The Rich man in the story lived a very luxurious life without caring for the poor or the widows or the orphans. He and his brothers spent all their God-given riches for their own pleasures.
They did not show any mercy to the people around them. Lazarus was a beggar and his condition was even worse among beggars. He was living a life of misery; he had no food to eat, no one to take care of him and above everything, he was sick. He was lying at the gate of the Rich Man expecting to eat at least something that fell from his table.
This Rich man might have seen Lazarus every day lying at his gate begging for food, but his heart was not kind enough to offer him any sort of help.
When we examine the earthly life of both these characters-The Rich Man and Lazarus- we might be prompted to think that:
“God has blessed the Rich man, but poor Lazarus is unlucky and not blessed by God. This is a very typical way of man’s thinking. Both believers and unbelievers think similarly.
But in God’s eyes Lazarus’ life too was precious, HE kept in store abundant blessings for him too; but the difference was: those blessings materialised in a different realm.
In this story we find God is blessing both Lazarus and the Rich Man very fairly. Unfortunately, the Rich Man did not understand the reasons why God blessed him with riches. He thought all that he owns was made by him and it is for him alone to enjoy.
As we see around us, riches always make people proud and arrogant, it happens to even believers. Riches often cause people to walk away from obeying God Almighty. Instead of loving God people start loving the riches and from there the fall begins.
This is what actually happened to the Rich Man. He neglected God’s Commandments and did not do what is “Just and Right” in the Eyes of the LORD.
23“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23, 23,)
In fact, wealth itself was not the reason for the Rich Man’s downfall, it is his neglect of God’s Commandments. If he had walked according to God’s Commandments, definitely, he would have offered help for Lazarus, he would have fed Lazarus with the food from his table instead of the waste that fell from the table.
Well, this story of The Rich Man and Lazarus gave me a new insight into God’s Righteousness, Justice and Mercy.
If God allowed sufferings in our lives, definitely, He will also shower us with a double portion of blessings. Unfortunately, we often fail to see things from a spiritual perspective and it causes a lot of misunderstandings about God and His Kingdom.
For us: the sign of God’s Love is: Abundant material blessings in this earthly life” which, in fact, is a very worldly thinking on the part of born-again believers.
Of course, we see a lot of suffering and misery around us, but we don’t need to attempt to find answers for everything from an earthly perspective. There is a spiritual dimension to everything happening under the sun. We may not understand this, but God Almighty knows everything and He is in full control. Our prayer should be, as Lord Jesus taught us to pray:
9“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us today our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6, 9-13)