The Rich Man And The Poor Beggar

Photograph by Stephen McElligott

Many of my readers would be familiar with the story of the Rich man and Lazarus. If you’ve never read it I highly recommend doing so here.

We have some car trouble. In addition to this, we are getting over a sickness so we could not attend our Greek Orthodox Church today. Using the Greek Orthodox study Bible I decided to help my sons maintain the day of the Lord by reading scripture for a while. We read many stories but ended on the one about the rich man and Lazarus. 

It’s the same old story of rich people treating the poor like rubbish. Those of us with an inner sense of the wrong that is taking place shake our heads, don’t we? Yet, we never point the finger at public enemy number one and accuse ourselves of being the rich man. The truth is there’s always someone poorer than us to some degree or other whom we overlook. 

In our lives, we must look for the man whom we pass by every day whom we neglect to help. It may be your father, mother, brother, sister or stranger on the street corner who has taken many wrong turns in his life. 

I often wonder if the rich man made excuses not to help Lazarus? We all make excuses for why we refuse to help others. I asked my sons what the rich man could have done to help the poor beggar Lazarus. The final consensus was that he should not only give him money but help him find work and help put a roof over his head. 

The truth is we make many excuses as to why we shouldn’t bother. I’ll now explore some of those reservations the Rich man had towards helping Lazarus. Maybe the beggar can’t be helped. He’s got a mental disability that stifles his ability to be a normal member of society. Why should I give him money when he’s only going to end up on the street again? He’s not capable of an 8-hour shift with my employees, he’d die a death. Leave him where he is. 

I won’t give him any money at all because he’ll only use it to buy drugs or alcohol. He’ll take it over to his other friends and like the prodigal son waste it because that’s what he is, a wastrel. I have very few reservations about whether or not the Rich man considered all this as part of his daily thought process when passing Lazarus by. 

Do you know why? Because humans do it to this day. “Why should I help him? I’m only wasting my time. Why should I give him a free ride? I never got a free lunch and worked hard for this big house and sports car. Why doesn’t he go get a job? He must have family, he’s certainly not one of my sons, let his brother or sister help him. Aren’t there enough charities around stupid enough to spend taxpayers money on him? Let them help him. I’ve got my own worries and family here to take care of. He’ll only take the money, become a millionaire and throw me and my family out the door if the chance presents itself.” 

Do you know why people think like that? Because it actually happens. I saw a poor man take all his redundancy money when he retired and handed it to his son-in-law. Do you know what happened? He built a business with it, gave it back to the father in law in drips and drabs every week, and then became a millionaire. Do you know what happened after that? He cheated on his wife, left her with a hefty mortgage to pay and ran off with another woman to start a business with her now that he’s wealthy. Ouch. The Father-in-laws charity came back to bite him in the ass. 

This is what happened to the rich man. Rich men aren’t emotionally stable or clever, but they’re logical people. They’re brainy with how the world works and the kind of intelligence highly esteemed of men. The Rich man had been thinking the same, “Why should I bother helping this man? I’m only wasting my money and there’s a chance it will come back to bite me in the ass one day.” And with the story, I just provided you with he’s not wrong either is he? 

However, he still went to Hell and Lazarus to Heaven. He never got his name written in the Holy book only Lazarus did. Why? Because the Rich man, although many have been highly esteemed by the world and they will remember his name in their books and erect statues in his honour, God will not remember him in His Holy books. 

You see, although our charity may seem wasted to us, and in truth sometimes it is wasted, yet when performed with love it does not go to waste in the sight of God. When in our case giving to someone means we must suffer (Jesus often asks us to give our cloak to those who ask) the consequences of having it come back to haunt us, yet in the world to come we will be remembered. 

This is why I always say to look for the person in your family and circle of friends that needs help. Don’t overlook them anymore and make sure that you’re taking care of business. Do not cry poor, do not make excuses, only give to them even if they be in plenty for selfless love raises our souls to heaven and softens the hearts of the stubborn. 

Truly we are all Rich men. We always have someone who needs our help. It may not even be the material help they need. The beggar we overlook may be a rich man suffering from the poverty of depression. He may have no need of your material possession but holds out his hand for your spiritual succour. Sitting at the lonely gate looking for love and nobody gives it to him. It might be an old man who has no family to come to visit him in your neighbourhood. Go knock on the door and don’t overlook him any longer.

God doesn’t care as much about your sins as he does your lack of love. He does not care as much for your great theological learning as he does your contemplation of Him. Contemplate him in the hearts of others and Love Him in the hearts of others. It matters not what their disposition is in life and whether or not your time and money appear to be wasted. Give, give and give plenty that’s all that matters. 

If you don’t do this you’re going to Hell and will suffer having to look at the family you left behind who behave the same way. There your spirit will observe your sons and daughters standing by the grand open fire enjoy the finest of brandy’s unaware of their fate. They will be saying, “My father always said. . . always. . . that you should look after your own and to hell with everyone else.” The Mother will nod her head, “Yes, dear, he was a truly wise man indeed who was very clever with money.” 

You will stand aflame and beg for God to send someone to them to preach and warn of the similar fate that awaits them. However, they’re so stubborn in their ways as you were that not even if a dead man were to rise before them would they change what you yourself taught them to become. It is true that children always absorb the personality of their father and follow him. Should their father be a stingy miser they will want to imitate him in every possible way. Imagine having to leave behind that kind of legacy? It doesn’t bear thinking about. 

God bless

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