Eternal Pride

Jesus told a parable about a rich man and a man named Lazarus. This story does a powerful job of showing us the extent of our selfishness and pride.

If you have never heard the story, it goes like this…

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted     sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.

And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’  

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’

This morning I heard this story used as an example of our utter pride and selfishness. Most people in the room agreed that because of Adam’s sin, we are all born with an inward focus and a desire to please ourselves first. I am priority #1.

Our teacher went on to explain that without God’s gracious intervening, we would continue in our prideful and selfish state for eternity.

In the story above, notice that the rich man had considered the idea that one could cross from Abraham’s side to Hades. It would only make sense that he would also consider one’s ability to pass in the opposite direction. Of course, the parable does not explicitly say that he did, but it stands to reason that he would have.

Now consider this, if you were in torment and anguish, what would your first thought most likely be?

1)     Please get me out of here!                                                                                                       2)     Please come here and ease my pain for a bit.

If you are like most people I know, you very quickly answered #1.

This was not the rich man’s request. He wanted his life to be easy again. He was looking for personal comfort. Rather than considering submission to God’s authority and joining those on Abraham’s side, the rich man asked for someone to come and serve him where he was. He wanted someone to ease his pain.

Oh, but he wasn’t completely selfish! Didn’t he think of his brothers and beg for a warning for them?

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

Doesn’t this sound like the rich man thought he had no warning himself, that God didn’t do a good enough job with him, that he had a better idea of how to run things? Of course, if things were run according to his idea, no one would end up in Hades.

The response? No. Let them hear Moses and the Prophets. God’s plan is just fine.

More whining. I know I’m right. I definitely have a better handle on these things than God. After all, I always make good decisions given proper information, and I definitely would have made a different one if someone had told me (even though I wouldn’t even consider it now).

Even in Hades, he’s looking out for #1.

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