The Misuse of Money
Luke 16:14-31
And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.…

The possibility of making "friends of the mammon of unrighteousness" has been clearly set before us by our Lord in the preceding parable. The "eternal tents" may afford us warmest welcome if we have conscientiously used our money. But the Pharisees who needed the warning against covetousness only derided him for his pains. It is supposed that it was his poverty which they thought took away his right to speak as he did of riches. He is consequently compelled to turn upon them a severer rebuke, and he does so in the sentences preceding, as well as in the substance of, the next parable. The intermediate sentences need not long detain us. Christ charges the Pharisees with self-justification. Now, this can only take place "before men." It is an appeal to a mere human tribunal - to those who can only judge by the appearance, but cannot search the heart. God, he tells them plainly, will not endorse this justification. He will reverse the sentence of self-complacency. He follows up this by stating the permanence of the Law. The reputation of the Pharisees may wither and decay, but not one tittle of the Law shall fail. And in present circumstances he declares that the Divine kingdom is being stormed by anxious men who have learned to humble themselves in penitence and pass into exaltation through pardon. They ought to see to it that they are not induced by lust to play fast and loose with the unchanging Law, and to imagine that they can divorce their wives on the usual pretexts, and be guiltless. Bat now we must proceed to the striking parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Upon the details of the story we do not tarry. It is an exquisitely powerful picture. The artist is here at his best. The rich man in his "purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day;" the poor man "laid at his gate, full of sores," and thankful for the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table and for the attention of the dogs; then two deaths, when lo! the positions are reversed, and the poor man finds himself in the bosom of Abraham and with his good things all about him, while the rich man finds himself in utter poverty, in need of everything and sure of nothing. The picture closes, too, all hope for such a selfish soul as the rich man proved himself to be. The following lessons are here taught us.

I. EVERY ONE WITH MEANS HAS AMPLE OPPORTUNITY IN THIS LIFE OF BEING GENEROUS. (Ver. 20.) The friends of the poor man laid him, or, as the word (ἐβέβλητο) may mean, "threw him down" at the rich man's gate. There could be no doubt about the rich man's opportunity; it was pressed upon his notice. And amid all the artificial separations which civilization makes between rich and poor, there is always some friendly hand to force opportunity upon us. "The poor we have with us always." They appear, do what we may, at the feast of life, and we cannot exclude them from our considerations. It requires an effort to be utterly ungenerous. Now, we ought to bless God that he has not left us with any excuse for hard-heartedness. He brings the world's needs to our very gates. He emphasizes opportunity. He gives us outflow for our generosities, He will not leave us in our hard-heartedness, but calls us evermore to nobler things.

II. SELF-INDULGENCE MAKES PEOPLE ABSOLUTELY PITILESS. (Ver. 21.) Mosheim, in a suggestive discourse from this parable, reminds us at the outset of the words of Peter about "fleshly lusts warring against the soul." It is wonderful how hardhearted luxurious living can make people. The rich man in the parable can find in his heart to pass out and in and never once to relieve his poor brother. The latter may have got crumbs from the rich man's table, but if he did, it was more likely by the servants' charity than by the master's orders. From the self-indulgent worldling he got no consideration. He is ignored, for the selfish soul has become pitiless. When self is supreme, it can shut out all consideration of others from one's thoughts. When they obtrude themselves or are obtruded upon our attention, we say, alas! that they have no claim upon us, forgetting that they are our brothers. Against such hardheartedness we should all be upon our guard.

III. DEATH, IN DEPRIVING THE SELFISH SOUL OF HIS GOOD THINGS, LEAVES HIM NECESSARILY IN TORMENT. (Vers. 22, 23.) Good living is a most dangerous habit when it constitutes any man's all. A soul, to be confined to this tariff, is in danger of dying into utter want. The round of sensual indulgence goes on day after day, the appetites are gorged, and man sinks down into the animal pure and simple. Now, if the world beyond makes no provision for such gross indulgences; if it has no venison and champagne; if the appetites are left without a larder and the famine of the senses has come; - what kind of life must the poor soul have? It needs no furnace of actual fire to secure his torment. The burning desire, within which nothing can quench, leaves him of necessity in torment. If God has made no provision for the intemperate, for the gourmand, for the dissolute, in their environment beyond the grave, must not their lusts, denied satisfaction, be perpetual torment? The torment of unsatisfied desire, the hunger of a self-centred spirit, must be terrible!

IV. UNBELIEF IS INEXCUSABLE, AND MAY BE INVINCIBLE. (Vers. 27-31.) The selfish worldling had evidently been living without regard to a future life. In his torment he realizes that his five brethren are living the same heedless life. Lest, therefore, they should come and increase his torment, he asks that Lazarus be sent on a special mission to warn them about their doom. Now, it is plain that, with Moses and the prophets in their hands, they were without excuse. What, then, did Moses and the prophets teach? They do not teach with great distinctness the doctrine of a future life. They undoubtedly imply that doctrine. But the question is - Did the rich man or his brethren need that doctrine to guard them against inhumanity of life? Must I tremble before prospective torment ere I am convinced that I ought to be generous and considerate? Nay, do I not know by the law of conscience that such conduct as is inhuman must incur the curse of God? Even the pagans are inexcusable when they live inhuman lives. Besides, we must not, with the rich man, imagine that a prescribed miracle may overbear all unbelief. Unbelief may be invincible. No miracle may be strong enough to defeat self-will. May we all be kept from such a hardened state!

V. ABRAHAM, AS HE CHERISHES LAZARUS IN THE OTHER LIFE, SHOWS US HOW A RICH MAN MAY PERPETUATE HIS KINDLY OFFICES AND INFLUENCE. (Vers. 23-25.) It has been very properly observed that in Abraham we have a rich man in blessedness, as a set-off to the other rich man in torment. Abraham was very probably the richer of the two while in life, but he had used his wealth for the good of his fellows. He had cherished the poor and needy. And so it is to good-hearted, faithful Abraham that the consolation of Lazarus is committed. Here the habits of helpfulness which the patriarch had cultivated upon earth find exercise in the better world. What a prospect is thus opened up to the large-hearted! Heaven will be full of opportunity for ministration. Those whose lot has been a hard one in this world will be taken to the bosom of the patriarchs of God - those who have become "seniors" in his house of many mansions - and receive from them the compensation which God has in store for all who have learned to love him. - R.M.E.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.

WEB: The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they scoffed at him.

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