By retired Seventh-day Adventist Church Pastor, Ian Cotton
In the parable of the rich man, (Luke 16:19ff) a man had all that money could buy. He lived as if it were all his own. He had neglected God and the claims of the suffering poor. At length, he dies. The robe of Christ’s righteousness, woven in the loom of heaven, can never cover greed. From wearing the finest clothing he is reduced to nakedness. His probation is ended. He brought nothing into the world, and he can take nothing out of it.
Christ lifted the curtain and presented this picture. Look at it, contemplate it, you who are rich in this world’s goods and are not rich toward God. That which is highly esteemed among men is abhorrent in the sight of God. Christ asks, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36, 37.)
The rich man was blest with every temporal and spiritual blessing, but he refused to co-operate with God who expects us to remember those in need and share with them. God promised to bless the nation in accordance with their deeds of love and mercy. But like the rich man, they did nothing to relieve the necessities of suffering humanity.
Filled with pride, they regarded themselves as the chosen and favored people of God; yet they did not serve or worship God. They put their dependence in the fact that they were children of Abraham. Boasting, “We are Abraham’s seed.” (John 8:33.)
Christ longed to let light shine into the darkened minds of the Jewish people. He said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill Me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God.” (John 8:39, 40.)
Christ taught that spiritual connection supersedes all natural connection. The Jews claimed to have descended from Abraham; but by failing to do the works of Abraham, they proved that they were not his true children. Only those who prove themselves to be spiritually in harmony with Abraham by obeying the voice of God, are reckoned as of true descent. Although the beggar belonged to the class looked upon by men as inferior, Christ recognized him as one whom Abraham would take into the very closest friendship.
The rich man, though surrounded with all the luxuries of life, was so ignorant that he put Abraham where God should have been. So with the nation he represented. If they had responded to the divine call, their future would have been wholly different. They failed to use their gifts as God’s stewards in accordance with truth and righteousness. Eternity was not brought into their reckoning, and the result of their unfaithfulness was ruin to the whole nation.
Christ knew that at the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) the Jews would remember His warning. And it was so. When calamity came upon Jerusalem, when starvation and suffering of every kind came upon the people, they remembered these words of Christ and understood the parable. They had brought their suffering upon themselves by their neglect to let their God-given light shine forth to the world.
Are we, and how are we, sharing God’s love to our neighbours?
– Adapted from Christ Object Lessons