Daily Devotions

You Didn't Earn It

"He [the rich man] called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’" (Luke 16:24)

 

This is such a descriptive and painful story to imagine. Lazarus was desperately poor, begging and covered in sores. The rich man passed him at the gate each day, having eaten lavish meals. Upon death poor Lazarus was carried into heaven by the Angels. Meanwhile, the rich man also dies, but finds himself in Hades. Even in Hades, the rich man does not learn humility.

 

Looking up from hell, the rich man apparently sees Lazarus enjoying the good life in heaven. Rather than feeling joy that such a poor, suffering soul on earth gets redemption in heaven, the rich man, while suffering the indignities of hell, still views poor Lazarus as an inferior. The rich man continues to act the superior by requesting Father Abraham to force Lazarus to leave his rightful place in heaven and send him to hell, to meet the rich man's needs. Further, the rich man continues to make demands, by having family members receive special divine intervention in order to save them from a hellacious fate, similar to his own.

 

In this passage Jesus is calling to faithful to heed the parable's warning. The sin is not simply being rich. The sin is in considering oneself superior because one's station in life is more fortunate than someone else's station. The Gospel of Luke, more than the other Gospels, is especially strong in warning the wealthy of their responsibilities and potential pitfalls.

 

In our individualistic society, we are taught to take great pride in our personal success. But there really is not such a thing as a personal success. Having the mental capacity to be successful is by the grace of God and not something you have earned. Having a family system, even a somewhat dysfunctional one, provides enough stability for you to succeed. Again, not something you earned. Being blessed by being born in a country like the United States provides opportunities that are totally impossible to achieve in many other places in this world. Not something you earned! I don't have enough time or space to talk about good health, and good health care, etc., etc. Much of our success is beyond our control.

 

When we see a Lazarus, there are regularly many stories of opportunities denied. God did not put these individuals in our world as objects for our derision, or as beasts to lesson our burden. These individuals remind us of our need to reach out with respect, compassion, and dignity. Since 1980, our economy has continued to grow, but it has grown mainly for the fortunate few at the top of the economic ladder. If we, like the rich man, refuse to look and act upon the Lazarus' of our world with compassion and respect, and with a commitment to making positive change, we may be surprised who God blesses with riches in the heavenly kingdom.

 

Today, pray for God to open our eyes to the needs of this world. Not one of us can make a difference by ourselves, but in prayer ask God to lead you to a place where you can make a small difference in the lives of at least some around you. But charity isn't as important as issues of respect. Ask God to humble you, so you can reach out to those less fortunate with an open mind and heart, treating each person with the respect due them, as children of God, made in that divine image.

Brutal Truths

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"The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all this, and they ridiculed him. So he said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God.'" (Luke 16:14-15)

 

Matthew Jones, a contributor for inc.com, caught my eye, with the following article. It certainly speaks to the issue raised by Jesus, who chastises the Pharisees for being lovers of money. Like Mr. Jones' article describes, there is a lot more to life than money:

 

It's much easier to talk about the weather, sports, and celebrities than your fear of mortality.

Unfortunately, the more time you spend pretending that ultimate truths don't exist, the more time you waste not being your authentic self and getting the most out of every precious second.

Time, not money, is your most valuable asset. Allow the list below to ignite the spark of motivation you need to make better use of the time you have on this planet.

Sometimes we need to head into the storm to appreciate the light and have a renewed passion for the beauty of life.

 

Here are Twenty brutal truths that every single person needs to hear.

 

1. You're going to die and you have no idea when.
Stop pretending that you're invincible. Acknowledge the fact of your own mortality, and then start structuring your life in a more meaningful way.
 
2. Everyone you love is going to die, and you don't know when.
This truth may be saddening at first, but it also gives you permission to make amends with past difficulties and re-establish meaningful relationships with important figures in your life.
 
3.Your material wealth won't make you a better or happier person.
Even if you're one of the lucky ones who achieves his or her materialistic dreams, money only amplifies that which was already present.
 
4. Your obsession with finding happiness is what prevents its attainment.
Happiness is always present in your life--it's just a matter of connecting to it and allowing it to flow through you that's challenging.
 
5. Donating money does less than donating time.
Giving your time is a way to change your perception and create a memory for yourself and others that will last forever.
 
6. You can't make everyone happy, and if you try, you'll lose yourself.
Stop trying to please, and start respecting your values, principles, and autonomy.
 
7. You can't be perfect, and holding yourself to unrealistic standards creates suffering.
Many perfectionists have unrelenting inner critics that are full of so much rage and self-hate that it tears them apart inside. Fight back against that negative voice, amplify your intuition, and start challenging your unrealistic standards.
 
8. Your thoughts are less important than your feelings and your feelings need acknowledgment.
Intellectually thinking through your problems isn't as helpful as expressing the feelings that create your difficulties in the first place.
 
9. Your actions speak louder than your words, so you need to hold yourself accountable.
Be responsible and take actions that increase positivity and love.
 
10. Your achievements and successes won't matter on your death bed.
When your time has come to transition from this reality, you won't be thinking about that raise; you'll be thinking about the relationships you've made--so start acting accordingly.
 
11. Your talent means nothing without consistent effort and practice.
Some of the most talented people in the world never move out from their parent's basement.
 
12. Now is the only time that matters, so stop wasting it by ruminating on the past or planning the future.
You can't control the past, and you can't predict the future, and trying to do so only removes you from the one thing you can control--the present.
 
13. Nobody cares how difficult your life is, and you are the author of your life's story.
Stop looking for people to give you sympathy and start creating the life story you want to read.
 
14.Your words are more important than your thoughts, so start inspiring people.
Words have the power to oppress, hurt, and shame, but they also have the power to liberate and inspire--start using them more wisely.
 
15. Investing in yourself isn't selfish. It's the most worthwhile thing you can do.
You have to put on your own gas mask to save the person sitting right next to you.
 
16. It's not what happens, it's how you react that matters.
Train yourself to respond in a way that leads to better outcomes.
 
17. You need to improve your relationships to have lasting happiness.
Relationships have a greater impact on your wellbeing and happiness than your income or your occupation, so make sure you give your relationship the attention and work it deserves.
 
18. Pleasure is temporary and fleeting, so stop chasing fireworks and start building a constellation.
Don't settle for an ego boost right now when you can delay gratification and experience deeper fulfillment.
 
19. Your ambition means nothing without execution--it's time to put in the work.
If you want to change the world, then go out there and do it!
 
20. Time is your most valuable asset--you need to prioritize how you spend it.
You have the power and responsibility to decide what you do with the time you have, so choose wisely.

 

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