Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.”     Luke 16:19-21 (NLT)

In some form I have heard the story of Lazarus since I was in elementary school. And so I was reading it again last night. No matter how familiar the passage, God always has something to show me and to teach me. There is always something new in God (Isaiah 43:19).

Lazarus, poor, homeless, sick has nothing to be counted in his “world bank.” I suspect that all who pass him on their way turn their eyes away from him. Looking at him is not pleasant. And we want to look at beautiful, pleasant things, don’t we?

The rich man has it all and continues to make deposits into his “world bank.” It wasn’t that he was rich that sent him to hell. He lived in luxury every day and did nothing to lessen the pain and suffering of someone who was just outside his door. Luke records Jesus saying that what is valued by man is detestable to God (Luke 16:15). The rich man’s lack of love and compassion is what sent him to eternal suffering while Lazarus was taken healed and whole to Abraham’s side rejoicing.

Is $5 a lot of money to you? I certainly have days when I do not have $5 but most days I do. For $5 I can buy a warm meal or even drive someone to a doctor’s appointment or a shelter so they have a warm bed for the night (Yes, use the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in whatever you do). These are things I can do any day of the week, not just when the holiday spirit touches me.

I think what many churches and groups do at Christmas is wonderful. But Jesus did not appear in Bethlehem and call it “done.” He lived here for over 30 years. He showed me how to be a disciple daily, not just when it was easy or convenient. He taught over and over that it wasn’t about loving when people were looking or applauding but when only God knew about my giving His gift of love.

The rich man was concerned that his family would suffer the same fate that he had because they had learned their way of life from his example. He wants Lazarus to go and appear to his family with a message of the truth. Abraham reminds the man that his family have heard the truth through the Scripture of their time and, like him, have chosen not to listen because obedience would require a sacrifice of their own will and way.

Most of us will never meet a person who has never heard of God or Jesus. But we meet people every day who have made a choice not to follow Him. So what can I do? Is it my job to argue or debate them into believing in Jesus? I submit that even those who do have a “call” to be apologists or debaters for the faith are asked more frequently by God to just be a witness by how they live their lives. The example of a life well-lived in Jesus speaks more clearly and true than many words. To be a pipeline for God’s love, His grace and mercy, His compassion and encouragement to flow out and over people is received and digested more readily than hours of debate over some theological point.

Whether I am out in the public every day working and moving about in this world or confined to home with the phone and the internet as my means of communication, God sends a willing servant an opportunity to serve. Are my eyes and ears open? Is my spirit willing? What will we do today, LORD?

Awesome God written by Rich Mullins and sung by Michael W. Smith


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