“There was a rich man who … lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar…” ~Luke 16:19-20
Jesus began this parable and taught the religious leaders about wealth, compassion and charity. Luke 16:19-31 records that the rich man ignored the beggar at his gate, then died and went to hell. The poor man died and went to heaven.
Eternally separated from God and his wealth, the rich man realized that his earthly treasure wasn’t so valuable after all. He felt the pain of loneliness, poverty and despair. Understanding the consequences of his decisions and seeing his family make the same mistakes, he begged for a chance to warn his brothers, but it was too late. The selfish, arrogant attitude he had on earth sealed his doom.
I have to confess that I used to read this passage and mentally chide the rich man. I mean, seriously, who on earth could walk past a beggar right outside of their house? What kind of egotistical, inconsiderate, cad DOES that? I’d pat myself on the back, assured that I would never do such a thing.
Or would I?
As with every lesson Jesus taught, deeper meanings lay beneath the surface. No, I wouldn’t likely walk past a beggar outside of my house, but I might…
Give a passing wave to a friend as I rush to finish my errands.
Stop for a quick chat, but keep the conversation superficial.
Let the phone ring until voice mail picks up the call.
There are lots of opportunities to help the people God puts at my “gate.” I know several folks who are lonely and need someone to talk with. Others are struggling and might need to vent their frustration to a safe person. Some may need a friend to show a little interest in what’s happening in their lives. So while I don’t step over beggars at my gate, I’m sometimes guilty of side-stepping certain situations and people in my life.
God is opening my eyes to some changes I need to make, and one of them is to be willing to make more time for others. I personally think this is what Jesus meant by “laying down our lives for our friends” (John 15:13). MY life consists of chores and errands and tasks, and I lay down my life when I make time to spend with someone who has a need.
Steve and I are also praying about new ways to serve and give. Now that our kids have left home and their activities are no longer the center of our attention, we have to look for opportunities to serve in our community. We want to focus on the things that have eternal value and be sensitive to the needs around us.
Especially the needs at our gate.