Live a Life of Righteousness Now
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Most importantly, we found that how a person lives today is what truly matters. The rich man chose to ignore the desperate needs of Lazarus while he personally lived a self-indulgent life. Even though he knew he should have helped Lazarus, and had every chance to do so, he simply ignored the beggar's hardship and suffering. As a result, the rich man passed up his opportunity for eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
The vital point Jesus was making in this parable to the Pharisees and to all of us should be clear, if we have "ears to hear" (Luke 16:14; Matthew 11:15). Are we consumed with our personal interests, concerns and pleasures? Do we ignore those who need encouragement, support and a helping hand? "But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:17-18).
The apostle James mirrored Jesus' comment when he wrote, "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" (James 2:15-16). A time of judgment is coming for every person who has had his eyes opened to the genuine truth of the Bible (2 Peter 3:7). As Peter asked, "What manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God?" (2 Peter 3:11-12).
Examining our personal attitudes and actions
It's easy to misunderstand the parable of Lazarus and the rich man if you lose sight of the main point of Jesus' message. When you look at it in the context of one of Jesus' main messages, which is to be concerned about the need of others, the real meaning becomes clear.
Although it's important to understand the real facts about the afterlife, it's even more vital that we carefully examine our personal attitudes and actions. Are we in sync with what God wants from us? Are our priorities in sync with God's priorities?
Jesus used the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a strong verbal and visual lesson to his disciples—to us. It shows us the importance God places on kindness and being outward-focused instead of inward-focused. To be sure, how we care for others is the dynamic spiritual lesson Jesus wants us to learn through this parable (James 1:27). We need to avoid being like the rich man who, in the end, realized it was too late to change.
The good news is that it's not too late to change. Change can begin today by letting God lead you to more understanding through study of His Holy Bible. It can begin today by dedicating yourself in prayer to get to know God more intimately.
Let's listen to God's Word now and make a diligent effort to prepare for eternal life in God's future Kingdom.