Lessons from Lazarus

Lessons from LazarusText: Luke 16:19-31

In the account of the rich man and Lazarus, we often focus on the rich man and/or the afterlife. But what can we learn from Lazarus? There are certain lessons taught by implication – not explicitly stated, but are still there. He was a man of great character in the face of great suffering.

Lazarus Was a Man of Faith

  • How do we know? – he was with Abraham after his death (Luke 16:22); Abraham is the father of the faithful (Romans 4:11); Lazarus was with him because he was faithful
  • We cannot please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6) – we can be justified as Abraham was through faithful obedience (James 2:21-24); those who believe and are baptized are Abraham’s descendants and heirs of the promise (Galatians 3:26-29)
  • Poverty can lead one to blame God and turn away from Him (Job 2:9) – however, we can be poor in this life but rich in faith (Revelation 2:9); regardless of our circumstances here, we need to lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21)

Lazarus Was a Man of Integrity

  • How do we know? – he was poor, but he did not steal; he was hoping for help (Luke 16:21), but he did not take from others against their will
  • Stealing is condemned throughout the Bible (Exodus 20:15; Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:28) – even though we may be sympathetic toward one who steals in poverty (Proverbs 6:30-31), it is still wrong
  • Poverty can bring about a great temptation to steal from others (Proverbs 30:7-9) – no matter what the temptation, there is a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13); we must keep ourselves from sin, regardless of our circumstances (cf. Psalm 119:153)

Lazarus Was Not Envious

  • How do we know? – he desired only the crumbs from the rich man’s table (Luke 16:21); he was not covetous of the wealth the rich man enjoyed
  • There will always be people in poverty (Matthew 26:11) – the solution is not confiscating the wealth of the rich (Proverbs 11:26); those who are rich have been blessed (Ecclesiastes 5:19); we are to rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15)
  • Poverty makes it very easy to be envious of others (cf. Acts 20:33-34; 1 Corinthians 9:4-7) – covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5); we cannot please God if we are coveting what others have; we need to be content with whatever blessings we have received from God (Philippians 4:11-12)

Lazarus Listened to God’s Law

  • How do we know? – he was contrasted with the rich man’s brothers (Luke 16:27-31); they were headed to torment because they were not listening to the law, which implied that Lazarus did listen
  • God has given us the ability to listen (Proverbs 20:12) – because of this ability, we are to use it (Luke 8:8); the Lord wants all of us to hear the gospel and obey it (Mark 16:15-16)
  • Poverty can sometimes distract us from spiritual things, yet it can also lead us to seek the Lord (Luke 15:14-19) – emphasis on the gospel being preached to the poor (Luke 4:18; 7:22); regardless of whether we are rich or poor, we must listen to and obey God’s law (James 1:21-22)

Conclusion

  • When Lazarus died, he went to paradise – not because he was poor; because he was faithful to God during his life despite his circumstances
  • Likewise, we can obtain a reward after we die if we will be faithful to God regardless of our circumstances

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