Rich Man and Lazarus | Luke 16:19-31

Welcome to Real Life.
“You made many, many poor people. I realize of course it's no shame to be poor, but it's no great honor either. Now what would be so terrible if I had a small fortune?” –Tevye (addressing God), Fiddler on the Roof
Chicago's Extravagant Skyline
“Oh, I’m so hungry,” the man groaned, “Can anyone spare some money for food?” Recently, I visited Chicago for the first time and rode the “L” train in from the airport. A tall middle-aged man boarded and began to beg. Fear was my initial response. This guy’s either high or mentally unstable. Will he pull a gun on us?  Then, I prayed—for his needs and for our safety. 

At the next stop, a lovely young woman boarded. She sat directly across from the man. “Oh, I’m so hungry,” he began again. I watched the woman nonchalantly dig into her purse, reach across the aisle, and place a folded bill in the man’s hand. He thanked her and exited the train at the next stop.

"Who is this brave young woman?" I wondered. Whether fearless or foolish, her response was definitely compassionate.

Jesus spoke of a beggar:
A rich man lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.

The beggar died. Angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died. In Hades, in torment, he saw Abraham and Lazarus far away. He called, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” 
Abraham reminded the rich man that in his lifetime, he received many good things. Lazarus did not. Now, Lazarus is comforted and he’s in agony. In addition, a great chasm exists so that no one can cross to the other side.
The account is kind of scary. For, I am the rich man. I may feel poor compared to Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah. However, compared to most of the world, I live in luxury.
  • 50% of world population lives on less than $2.50 day = $913 per year
  • 80% of world population lives on less than $10 day = $3,650 per year[1]
Just as it is no shame to be poor, it is no sin to be rich. The rich man was not in Hades because he was rich. Nor was Lazarus in Paradise because he was poor. The Bible is clear:  Eternal life is a gift received by faith in Christ.[2] It's not earned by good works.[3]

Yet, my actions reveal my faith. And, “when someone has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48b NLT). I'm not the 1%. But, I'm in the top 20%.

The poor matter to God. They should matter to me.

Lord Jesus, open my eyes to the needs of others. 

Taking it further …
  • Am I ignoring someone with a legitimate need whom God has placed in my path? 
  • Help victims of the recent tornadoes (by donating or volunteering) through Samaritan’s Purse
  • Everyone, regardless of financial status, can give something. Jesus commended a poor widow who gave an offering out of her want (Luke 21:1-4).
  • Compassion International works to break the cycle of poverty by providing education and basic needs for poor children through sponsorship:

[2] Romans 6:23
[3] Ephesians 2:8-9


  1. Although I do not believe in heaven or hell after death, I do think we should do good deeds. Being compassionate to each other in life. Help out in some shape or form without asking anything back. Of course, sometimes you may ask something from someone as well. But if you decide to help somebody, just do it for that person and not get better from it yourself in some way.

    1. Hi Mirjam,
      Thanks for stopping by to comment. Agreed, regardless of your faith, compassion is important! :) Is is easy to develop a hard heart against other's misfortunes.

    2. PJ Fleck
      Christian Blogger
      I find it very sad when I read or hear of someone who does not believe in heaven or hell. Does that mean that there is no belief in God also? I look at the purple and pink sunset and the brilliant orange and red tulips in my rose garden which only has one bush in it and I think only God can paint such a beautiful picture. Good works are commendable but not enough for God. I have to believe in my God and tell others of Him and how wonderous He is. I have deep brain nerve damage, but I still thank Him for giving me each and every day that is full of blessings from Him. I applaud your compassion for others and pray that someday, you will meet my Jesus.

    3. Yes, Peggi, regardless if someone has implemented religion into his or her life or not, still that person can set out to care about others, trying to be the best person they can be. ;)
      I still believe in things. I'm not an atheist.

      At PJ, I respect the people that do have implemented religion. I just don't think I am less because I haven't and that I will get punished later because I haven't :)
      Religion shouldn't be about being scared you go to some hell when you die because you didn't implement religion as a lifestyle. Religion should be free to choose for without fearing sómething.
      I choose to implement certain things I think are important. I just don't call it a belief. You don't have to feel sad for me. I'm not a lost soul. Okay, you may think I don't realise I am, that's possible.
      But besides that, it should be enough to be the best person you can be and do good things with your life or better it while you're at it.

  2. My Dear Friend,
    I really love this article because it reflects my own beliefs about giving. Some years ago, I was walking on Christmas Day with my husband, a girlfriend that is now living in Australia and her husband in a beautiful area in Steinheim Germany. A man stopped us and asked for some help. My girlfriend's husband shooed him away and my husband was about to do the same, when I said, no, don't do that. I reached in my pocket and gave him what was the equivalent of 10 U.S. dollars. Afterward, my husband and the other couple teased me and said the man was going to use the money to get drunk. I told them that is not my problem. I saw a man in need and that I couldn't turn my back on him. On the way back to our car, we saw the man go into a small Gasthaus (restaurant). They were jabbing me and making fun of my stupidity. So my husband said, I am going to go and ask the man why he took advantage of your kindness. My husband went into the restaurant and came back within seconds. He had a look of shock on his face. That man that I had given the money, was sitting at a table eating a hot meal, just as he said he would. This lesson taught me a lot about giving, and I was so glad that I had been obedient.

    Today, there are a couple of beggars who knock on doors two or three times a year. I know who they are. When they come to my door and knock they know they will receive 2 or 3 euros which is the equivalent of 2 or 3 dollars. In fact they know me by name.

    One of my favorite scriptures that I stand upon is from Proverbs 19:17, and I quote it in my words, He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord; and the Lord will repay him back what he has given. I believe this fully and I try to pattern my life of giving with my faith in this verse.

    Thank you for the confirmation that I received by reading your article.


    1. Hi Patricia,
      Wow! Thanks for sharing the account of the man and the hot meal. Our hearts can get so hard, so cynical, that we miss those who are truly in need.

      Proverbs 19:17 is such a profound verse. I haven't heard it in a long time -- and I needed to. Thanks for sharing, my dear and wise friend!


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