Ignoring the Future

Pentecost 19 Tuesday

Luke 16:19-20

“There was a rich man who clothed himself in purple and fine linen and lived every day gloriously and in joy. But a poor man named Lazarus laid at his door covered with sores.”

The other example Christ presents here is the rich man who does well here on earth where everything goes according to his wishes; however, in the future life he must suffer want and be condemned forever. Here we must, once again, believe that our Lord Christ speaks the truth about such judgment and condemnation that this rich man lies in the flames of hell and suffers horrible and unspeakable torment. A big cause of such sufferings is that he sees poor Lazarus in eternal joy, whom he previously despised in such a shameful way; moreover, he does not even get to enjoy a single drop of water and
must remain forever in such misery without any hope of help. Yet what is the reason that this poor man gets into such eternal calamity and pain? It is not, by itself, the fact that he is rich and has a lot of money; that he clothes, eats, and drinks well; for such are God’s gifts and ordering. As long as you keep moderation and do not do anything in excess God will not begrudge you money and possessions, food and drink, joy and fancy clothes and other things. Yet this is the reason: This rich man has money and possessions , dresses nicely, and lives gloriously while not thinking about the future life; he does not consider what will happen to him in the future life should he die today or tomorrow. All his attention and striving is focused only on having enough comforts in this life, as if he did not need anything else. Yet Christ, in the gospel, warns against burdening the hearts with guzzling and boozing and worries about food, Luke 21:34. This is one reason that leads him to condemnation; for his concerns show that God’s Word was not in his heart. He was not disturbed by it–neither by God promises nor by his threats–so long as he did not suffer want in this life. The other reason is that he saw poor Lazarus lying before him. Yet he did not deign to give to him as much as to a dog, so much so that the evangelist says that the dogs had more compassion on him and served him more than the rich man, Luke 16:21. He does not consider that God gave him more possessions so that he should help others who suffer want. Rather, like a sow that wants to devour everything by herself and could not leave anything to others, the rich man thinks as well: As long as I have enough, I do not care about the want of the poor. Such sins cause the horrible judgment that he enjoys his pleasures and fancies for a short time here, but suffers eternally there.

St. Louis ed. 13.1: 702-703.

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