Caring for Things Temporal and Eternal

Pentecost 19 Thursday

Luke 16:27-29

“Then the rich man said: I ask you, father, to send Lazarus to my father’s house–for I have five brothers left–to testify to them, lest they too come to this place of torment.”

Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them. The world is and remains the world; it will not accept counsel or help. Those who have much want to have more and do not want to give anything away. Those who have little scheme how to get something even if that hurts others. This is why God must send forth all sorts of punishment against the sinful world and must then also punish with the fire of hell. Nonetheless, even though the world both experiences and hears this preached, it neither cares nor improves. Is this not a horrible, terrible blindness and hardening? We know how to use foresight in other matters: If there is word of a famine, then everybody who is able to sees to it that he stores up food for one, two, three years to prevent want. Yet why do we not use foresight here as well when we know that an eternal want must follow when we do not get this right?…Yet how is it that we wretched people get into this calamity that we do not take on these eternal dangers and do not seek to be protected against them? Is it not true that the devil takes away our mind and our intelligence? Otherwise, we would seek to prevent such eternal loss more than any temporal loss. Yet everyone goes his way and is only concerned about having enough for himself, about leaving a big inheritance for his children, about supporting himself handsomely. Those who have this, think they have enough. Those who do not have it, cannot rest until they have it as well. This is how hearts are burdened with cares about food, so that their judgment comes over them like a noose; and before they realize it, they will be dead and damned, Luke 21:34. This, then, is the reason why the Lord presents this example of the rich man to us and has it preached to us: He would gladly cause us to care not only for things temporal, but also, and much more so, for things eternal and imperishable. He wants us to deal with things temporal and perishable in such a way that we do not use them to our own damnation. For this rich man, if he had not had so many possessions and had suffered and been tried a little bit, would not have gotten himself into such calamity. Yet money and possessions gave him the confidence that made him think he needed neither God nor his Word…Christ warns us about this and says: Beware; if you want to follow the example of the rich man and seek only after leading a splendid life here on earth, you will end like him: Eternal unending misery and pain will follow such short, perishable, and also uncertain joy.

St. Louis ed., 13.1:704-706.

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