But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things…’(Luke 16:25, NIV)
We are invited to be a new creation in Christ, co-heirs to all the promises of God’s eternal kingdom! And so, we have a choice to make…
The story of the rich man and Lazarus is really an extraordinary illustration. Jesus gives us a glimpse into the real lives of two men, one bound for eternal rest and one bound for eternal torment.
Lazarus spent his whole life as a beggar, lying in poverty outside of a rich man’s gates. The rich man lived in luxury, well-dressed, well-fed, in a nice house. When Lazarus died, his soul was carried by the angels to a place of rest with all the faithful. But when the rich man died, his soul departed to a place of torment.
I have heard many reasons given for why the rich man ended up in eternal torment. He must have been selfish, because he never paid any attention to Lazarus. He must have been greedy, since he had so much and didn’t share. He must have been cruel, to be unmoved by the daily sight of someone in need. But Jesus doesn’t tell us that the rich man was selfish or greedy or cruel.
Jesus shares with us the single, specific reason why the rich man went to hell: “In your lifetime you received your good things.”
The rich man simply desired the good things in life. He simply had no interest in the good things of eternal life. He enjoyed his gated community and his favorite foods and the latest fashion and his daily entertainment. And that, alone, was reason enough.
This world is full of the temptation-of-things.
And it can sound so good, the thought of having our good things now…
Live your best life now. Step into all that God has for you. God wants you to be blessed to be a blessing. God wants us to have nice things. God just wants you to be happy. Sure, I have lots of nice things, but I’m not attached to them – I could give them up in an instant! Well, obviously, I love God more than any of the things He gives me.
…and then, of course, also having our best things in eternity.
But the truth is that we have a choice to make.
The more we choose our good things now, the less we prepare our hearts to desire God’s good things in eternity. The more we love the things of this world, the less the love of the Father is in us. The more we want our best life now, and the more we want to step into all that God has for us now, and the more that we want to be blessed now, the less we are thinking about God’s kingdom and God’s glory and God’s eternal promises.
But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”(Matthew 16:23, BSB)
If our minds are constantly set on the things of men, how can we believe that our hearts will somehow be set on the things of God?
The truth is, we will not have it both ways. One receives his good things in this life and enters eternal torment; one does not receive his good things in this life and enters paradise. If we followed God’s commands in every other way, this single choice would still make all the difference…
by Sydney Michalski
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