A Rich Man

 Luke 16:14-31

“The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but GOD knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in GOD’s site.”

Aren’t you amazed at the Pharisees, they don’t get it. Sneering at Jesus, how can they do that?

I was daydreaming about winning the lottery (think of all the good I could do in the world) and this is how the process went in my mind. The amount would be over 50 million, approximately half of which would go to taxes. Struggling a bit with taking a lump sum or payments over several years, I settled on the lump sum amount. Keeping my job was a priority as I wanted to stay grounded and working a job would help with that. Of course giving money to the church was a priority at least 10%, but I should easily be able to give more say 20 to 30%, which would allow me to give to Children’s Relief International, Open Door, ECM, Paris Elementary, Haitian Foundation, and other worthwhile organizations. There would be some money for family members and friends and truthfully I didn’t need too much more, but there were some trips I would like to take, some things that needed done and even some things that I would like. And then it hit me. Everything I have is a gift from GOD. That thought came to my mind and I thought of my hypocrisy... I don’t get it. I am amazed that the Pharisees sneer at Jesus and there I am thinking of getting over $50 million dollars and I’m only willing to give away 30 to 40% at the most… and this is in my dreams! As if my wonderful wife, amazing kids, great friends, my growing relationship with Christ isn’t impetus enough for me to do more good in the world, as if money is the answer, as if money is the best way to start to do good in the world. Luke 16:15 “He said to them, You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but GOD knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in GOD’s site.”

I think I love money and I believe it controls a large portion of my life, even more than I am willing to believe or willing to admit.

Luke 16:19-31 is the story about a rich man and Lazarus. As I read through this story I am taken by versus 22 and 23 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 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.” Why didn’t the rich man call out to Lazarus directly? He knew Lazarus way better than he knew Abraham. He never met Abraham, and yet he had walked by Lazarus several times a day, he even knew Lazarus’ name! Why didn’t the rich man call out to someone he knew for the drink he so desired, so needed? Is it possible that we feel closer to GOD than to those we live near or with? Is it possible to be closer to GOD without being closer to those we live near or with? Is it possible that my love of money which the world tells me will bring me happiness, satisfaction, love, and even contentment in my life keeps me from truly being closer to GOD and even those around me.

And this is the scary part for me. The rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers and let them know, even warn them about what they are doing and missing with their lives. Abraham replies with “They have Moses and the Prophets, let them listen to them.” The rich man argues with Abraham and says “No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them they will repent.” And Abraham replies to the rich man “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

Today, I saw myself as the rich man and I pray that I see value in every man, woman, and child on this earth. Truthfully, the most scary thing is that I “try” to see myself as a disciple rather than one of those in the crowd who shouted “crucify him,” but in my heart I know I still value those things among men rather than that valued by GOD.

If I truly believe in God, if I truly believe that Jesus Christ is my Creator, LORD, and Savior then I need to let go of my love of money. And in letting go of my love of money GOD promises me, GOD promises us- a deeper, more satisfying relationship with GOD and his whole creation beyond anything we can imagine.

We don’t have to make a big move or any move at all because GOD is already with us, GOD is already in us, GOD already loves us. All we need to do is let go of our fears, let go of our worries and love. Richard Rohr says, “GOD does not love us if we change. GOD loves us so we can change.” AMEN!

Jim

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