Perhaps you are getting tired of hearing about billionaires in the news?
Maybe you were saddened by the near $20 billion loss Jeff Bezos suffered when the price of Amazon stock dropped. Or you were intrigued by Elon Musk’s multi-billion-dollar bid for Twitter. Or perhaps you shook your head when hearing the news of the Russian oligarchs and their extravagant expenditures—on themselves.
Some of that news made me think about Jesus. In his day, he circulated with people of all kinds. There were times when he hung out with the ruling elite, the rich. He wasn’t afraid to circulate in that world. Yet he never once commended the wealthy for their wealth.
I suspect he knew the temptation we all face. It’s easy to look upon those with riches and great wealth, scoff perhaps at their misuse, yet privately and quietly think to ourselves, “I’m sure I’d do it differently.” In fact, I’ve heard it from more than one person that when or if they get to be wealthy, they will be generous.
That temptation to wonder—if only I’d win the lottery or receive a great inheritance—Jesus taught us something about that.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of a rich man who every day, clothed in the finest purple, lived the finest life—a life of luxury. On the other hand, Jesus contrasts the rich man’s life with a beggar who sat every day at his gates, covered with sores, hoping only to receive scraps from the table of the rich man. The beggar’s pleas are ignored.
The rich man is cursed to Hades. The poor man is lifted to Heaven. The rich man now experiences torment and longs (every day) to experience relief. And he calls out to Heaven for the poor beggar to bring him relief.
As Jesus closes the story, he reminds the hearers that the rich man experienced good things while the poor beggar received bad things.
The short-term comfort of this life is short sighted. We would do well to pay attention to the brevity of life, for the long tomorrow is not so distant.
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Published June 20, 2022
Topics: Lessons with Bill