Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Work & Wealth Matters To God (Luke 16:19-31)

The issues of work and wealth clearly matter to God.  It is a subject that one out of every three parables touches upon.  And these two issues, work and wealth are central themes in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, sometimes referred to as Lazarus and Dives (Luke 16:19-31).

What we work for, and what we do with our wealth clearly matter to God.  The Bible makes it clear that it is part of our God given nature to work.  For example in Genesis chapter 2 we read that God placed Adam into the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.  And the picture we have of God in the Bible, is that He is a God who works.  It may not always feel it, but work is actually a gift from God!

Work is given to us, as a way of providing not only for ourselves, but also for others.  For example Deuteronomy talks about leaving some of the harvest for the poor and needy.  We should view the money that we have, not just as ours to use as we wish, but to use for the good of others.  Problems arise, when the pursuit of money becomes our priority in life.  Jesus warned us that we cannot serve God and money.  We only need to look at the problems affecting the global economy to realise the dangers of unbridled greed.

We see the potentially corrupting nature of wealth in our story of Lazarus and the rich man.  The rich man in the story was clearly incredibly wealthy.  He wore the finest clothing, ate the best food, lived in a beautiful house, surrounded by many possessions.  But sitting outside the door of his house was Lazarus, in complete contrast to the rich man, Lazarus had nothing.  No fine clothes, just what he wore on his back, no food, but only that which he could beg or which he could scrounge of the streets, and no home.  No place of safety or refuge.  A stark contrast between the wealth of the rich man, and the poverty of Lazarus. 

But the rich man was clearly indifferent to Lazarus’ plight.  In fact he seems to have been blind to it.  Rather than sharing some of his wealth, the rich man kept it all for himself.  His love for money came first above all other things. 
How we handle our money, reveals much about our depth of commitment to Christ.  Godfrey Davis, who wrote a biography about the Duke of Wellington, said, "I found an old account ledger that showed how the Duke spent his money. It was a far better clue to what he thought was really important than the reading of his letters or speeches.

What about us?  When we make decisions, do we consider how they may affect others?  Do we use our wealth or the gifts we have been given for the benefit of others? If someone was to look at our account ledger, what would it say about us and our priorities?