Sometimes the niceties of this life – the accoutrements of wealth and prosperity – are more of a distraction than anything else. Sometimes they simply get in the way of what’s important. In the case of the rich man – if he saw his wealth as God’s favor – what then was he to think of the miserable beggar outside the gate? We read how he rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen. These things were extremely expensive in those days, yet this man had them, and likely in abundance. Clean, fresh garments day and night. And the food! What sumptuous courses did this rich man have laid out on his table each day, no doubt on ornate plates and platters…
We can imagine how this wealthy man, finely dressed and with access to great quantities and varieties of food and other pleasures, may have lived a very high life. He may have been one who loved the attention that such things brought, opening his table to streams of wealthy and prestigious guests.
Now, it may be easy to hold this man’s wealth and opulence against him here, but being rich is not in and of itself a sin. Don’t make that mistake. Wealth isn’t a sin. What you do with it, and what you allow it to do with you however can be a sin.
Whatever the case here, the rich man here lived the high life on Earth. His every day was no doubt furnished with great luxury, and he surely had every material thing he wanted…
Beneath it all though, I’m certain that there was a nagging that wouldn’t go away. There was a hole his money couldn’t fill. In Spite of his assumption that the luxuries he enjoyed were reflective of the favor of God, the truth would ultimately be devastating.
Rich as he was, despite all his fine clothes and abundant food, he was poor in the love of God!
Great material wealth and pleasure are often dangerous, and for many become an eternally fatal temptation to enjoy ever more luxury, and sensuality. This of course breeds the forgetfulness of God and another world. The indulgence of the flesh, and the ease and pleasure of that lifestyle, are the ruination of the soul.
Far too often, the more we have, the more we want, and our greed for more and more luxury becomes the fuel that stokes the deadly fires of pride.
Now, we have all heard the saying “money can’t buy happiness,” right? There is some research that absolutely vindicates that statement. According to the Harvard Business Review, the connection between wealth and happiness is not a positive one.
How many times do we hear of this celebrity or that one committing suicide or overdosing because they just can’t find true happiness? More often than not, the most miserable people are those who have it all. For one thing, wealth tends to make people less generous.
In a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, participants playing a game of Monopoly grew progressively meaner as their wealth grew, by talking down to their poorer competitors and assuming more dominant positions. Worst of all, they also hogged a larger portion of a bowl of pretzels meant to be shared equally. Researchers have also noted that rich people give proportionally less of their income to philanthropic causes. They apparently get so consumed by getting more money that they loathe the idea of getting rid of any that have already amassed!
Sad but true. The fact of the matter is that sharing is a good thing, folks!
“Hell & the Rich Man” continues next time…
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