Looking Outside Yourself, Part I
"There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously ( lived in luxury ) every day. "But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores who was laid at his gate, "desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. ( Paradise ) The rich man also died and was buried. "And being in torments in hell, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, ' Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." "But Abraham said,' Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. Luke 16: 19-25
Looking outside of ourselves allows us to see the otherwise hidden Lazarus's of the world that are laid at everyone's gate. Make no mistake, they are not all in Africa but right here in America, in your home town, and maybe right at your doorstep.
The scripture said, that the rich man lived in luxury every day not paying any attention to that horrible creature outside his door. Every time he walked outside he would have to step over poor Lazarus laying there in agony and hope that he would disappear. Aren't you glad that we are not like that?
In 1980 I gave my life to Jesus and joined a church in my neighborhood and one Sunday my pastor invited me over to his house to have lunch with he and several prominent preachers, pastors and evangelists from the area. Newly saved and wanting to be like the popular ministers, all discussing their latest accomplishments I was approached by a man who introduced himself and began to tell me that he was sent to minister to the poor.
As I listened to the man with one ear and wanting to hear the war stories of the preachers with the other, the man said, come with me I want to show you something. Reluctantly I followed not wanting to leave the esteemed meeting but curious about this strange man's intention to show me something. He took me to the south side of the city and behind an abandoned school showed me people living in cardboard boxes. I was amazed that this was going on in my city, after all I had grown up here and thought I had seen everything.
The man who showed me all of this was from out of town and was not familiar with the city, but he knew where to look, either I didn't want to see, or maybe I didn't have eyes to see, but now I was responsible for what I had been shown. From that day forward my whole life began to change. I believe that God tests the heart of man to see what we will do when confronted with the needs of the poor. The book of Hebrews warns us to be sure and entertain strangers because some are angels sent to test us.
I am convinced that if this man had not shown me the needs of the poor in my own city that I would have continued to ignore what was visibly in front of my very eyes and would have never seen what God wanted me to see. The rich man was not sent to hell because he was rich, he was condemned because he didn't share his wealth with Lazarus. He was tested every day as he proceeded to step over Lazarus whom I believe was purposely laid there to test the rich man's heart.
Have you ever dared to look outside of your world? I challenge you to look around you and ask God to show you the needs of people in "Your Space". You will be amazed at the number of people in this country that are poor, sick, homeless, drug addicted, and in many cases, dying right in front of your eyes, not to mention that most of the world lives in poverty.
I believe that the rich man represents the church and that Lazarus represents the poor of this world that we are to deliver the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ to and present to them the love of the Savior. Jesus spent most of His ministry with the poor, the lepers, prostitutes and those that no one else wanted to have anything to do with. He was rejected and criticized by the church for hanging out with sinners and ultimately put to death. Today it seems that the the church only wants nice clean middle class tithers, not dirty old sinners. May God have mercy on our souls!
"And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand,' Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 'I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25: 40-43 and 46
May the Lord open the eyes of your understanding and bless you with wisdom,
Your servant in Christ, Tim Laughlin
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen. Hebrews 13: 20,21