There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Lazarus just wanted some crumbs from the rich man, what was left over after he’d had his full share, what would be discarded and disregarded. Just some crumbs would have made a huge difference to Lazarus in the desperate state he was in. Just that little bit would have dulled the hunger and given him a little bit of strength. But instead the only relief he had in his miserable condition was from the dogs who licked his sores.
The rich man only cared about himself. He had no compassion for this beggar right outside his door. He enjoyed what he had and didn’t give any thought to sharing it with someone else. He had an amazing opportunity to make a real difference, but he chose not to. So the major condemnation of the rich man wasn’t in the fact that he was rich, but that he was selfish. He had been blessed with the finest things, more than enough. But he was not a good steward of those things, refusing to help someone in need.
Honestly, we don’t have to go very far to find someone in need. So how will we respond to them? Are we generous with the resources God has given to us? Are we willing to share with those who have little? Do we ignore the needy people we encounter? It’s not that we have to solve the problem of world poverty by ourselves. We don’t have to give everything we have to someone else. But can’t we have some compassion, some generosity, some selflessness toward those we come in contact with? Can’t we make a tangible difference right where we are?
We know the end of this story. The rich man dies and goes to hell, condemned to a fate of eternal suffering, while Lazarus dies and is comforted in Abraham’s bosom. And the lesson to learn is not that rich people die and go to hell and all who suffer will be comforted. Salvation is through Christ, and that is the determining factor of where we will spend eternity. But the lesson we can learn is that covetousness makes us blind—not only of our own need for a Savior, but to the suffering of those around us. It hardens our hearts to be so selfish. It strips us of compassion and love for others as we focus only on ourselves and what we can get and what we can have. So may we understand what is truly valuable in life. May we cultivate a generous and kind heart that seeks to help those around us with whatever their need may be.