Have you heard the one about the rich man and the camel? No one tells them like Jesus! Check it out in Matt 19: 23-26. As He does elsewhere, Jesus warns us we can do nothing without God. Of course, it follows we can do anything with God. But what does this have to do with us? Most of us are not rich! Or are we?
Does the parable in Luke 12: 16-21 not describe you? Like the rich man, are you focused on storing up possessions on earth? Like the rich man have you stored up much more than you need? Like the rich man, has your creator not provided you with an abundant harvest and its blessing that you enjoy it? Could what’s wrong be your preoccupation in acquiring it?
In Matthew 6: 19-24, Jesus is teaching us to serve God rather than money. Rather than accumulate wealth, He insists that we must use our wealth for the benefit of God’s children. He is teaching that every time we use our wealth for the benefit of someone else, it is stored up in heaven for us where it will be ours forever.
The first lesson is that, when we ignore the needy and serve only ourselves, we make our own beds. As long as we put our will before God’s will, we cannot be judged ready for eternal intimacy with our creator. In so doing, we condemn ourselves to the hell of separation from God. Nothing can bridge that separation except our eventual decision to permanently put God’s will ahead of our own.
The second lesson is that there will be no excuses available to us. The Rich Man begs
Abraham to send Lazurus to warn his brothers (which, of course are all of us) so that his fate won’t befall us. Abraham reminds him that we have already had repeated warnings in the form of the Word of God. It has been conveyed to us by Moses and the prophets. It has been placed directly by God into our minds for us to discover. The Rich Man acknowledges that most of us have completely ignored these warnings. However, he assures Abraham that, if someone from the dead comes to warn us, we will repent.
Does the impact of Abraham’s reply not hit you like a sledgehammer? Who came from the
dead to warn us? Has Jesus not told us everything we need to know? What greater warning could we be given? If we don’t accept the warnings of God Incarnate, and take them to heart, even after He has been crucified and resurrected so we might finally take notice, what more do we need? As long as we set aside the most powerful warning we could possibly be given, have we not made our own beds?
But, if we don’t feel rich, does that let us off the hook? In Mark 12: 41-44, Jesus teaches us that the poorest among us are not freed of this teaching. No matter how poor we feel we are, we must prioritize using whatever wealth we have for the benefit of our creator’s children. Not only that, but, like the widow, the poorer we are, the greater are our gifts.
As it is for the camel, it is for us. We can’t do all this on our own. We must ask our creator to help us. Our creator will top up our best efforts but only if we apply our best efforts. Is it not time to act?