In the familiar story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus showed us two lives. One was filled with plenty, luxury, and excess, while the other was filled with poverty, want and pain. The Bible does not teach that it is a sin to be wealthy, nor was the rich man condemned simply because he had much. The rich man was punished because he put his faith in his possessions, not in God. He is an example of someone living in man's economy, where wealth, power and possessions are the goals for which to strive. He missed a great opportunity to make a difference in someone's life, to serve God, and to live in God's Economy, where peace, joy and eternal blessings are given. We can learn a great lesson from the rich man.
-- See the need. The need was right outside the rich man's door. Every day, the rich man had to pass by Lazarus, who was literally laid at the rich man's gate (Luke 16:20). Yet, the Scripture does not say that the rich man ever offered to help Lazarus. Many times, we don't need to look any further than our own churches and communities to find a need. Take a close look around you. Once you recognize the need, you can think of ways to help fill that need. What are the needs in your sphere of influence?
-- Share your resources. The rich man had plenty to eat, while Lazarus longed for merely the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table (Luke 16:21). We may not think we have much to offer, but God can use whatever He has given us to fill the needs around us. Giving of our time and talents are just as important as monetary gifts. Take inventory of your resources and talents. What has God given you that you can use for His glory?
-- Sow seeds in the next generation. Both the rich man and Lazarus died and went into eternity -- Lazarus to eternal peace in the presence of God, and the rich man to eternal torment and separation from God. When the rich man realized his fate, he begged for someone to warn his five brothers, who were still alive (Luke 16:27-28). He realized that because of the example he had lived before them, his five brothers would most certainly end up in the same place. What kind of legacy are we leaving for the younger generations? Make sure to include your children in your plans to give. Let them see firsthand how powerful it is to help those in need. Teach them to bless others by being generous. What can you do as a family to be generous to someone this year?
Here are a few ideas for generosity:
1. The next time you go to the grocery store, buy a bag of canned goods to drop off at your local food pantry.
2. "Adopt" a local family and provide Christmas gifts, clothing and food. Check with your neighborhood school resource counselor for a list of needy families.
3. Offer a day of free babysitting for a single parent to do some Christmas shopping.
4. Have the whole family do some yard and household chores for an elderly neighbor.
5. Have your children create homemade cards for a local children's hospital, orphanage or nursing home, then deliver the cards as a family.
6. Take homemade cookies and notes of thanks to your local firehouse or police station to thank them for their service this year.
7. Send cards and care packages to soldiers serving overseas. Check with a military official for what can be sent in the care packages.
8. Go Christmas caroling in your neighborhood or to elderly neighbors.
9. Have the whole family clean out clothing or toys that they no longer need (in good condition!) and donate them to a shelter.
10. Spend part of your Christmas budget to give a donation to your favorite charity.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries and executive producer of the new God Provides™ Film Learning Experience. (Rich Man and Lazarus, adapted from Luke 16:19-31, is one of six short films featured in the Learning Experience. Learn more at Crown.org/GodProvides.) Co-founded by Howard Dayton and the late Larry Burkett, Crown Financial Ministries (Crown.org) is an interdenominational ministry with 200 staff and over 10,000 volunteers dedicated to equipping people globally with biblically based financial stewardship tools and resources through radio, film, seminars, small groups and individual coaching.
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