Posted by: arieliondotcom | April 11, 2010

The Sores of the Saints

The Sores of the Saints

Luke 16:19-31

I think about Lazarus a lot. Not the one that JESUS raised from the dead (though an argument could be made they’re the same person) but the man who was so poor and so weak from hunger that dogs licked his sores and he could do nothing to stop them, put by friends at the gate of a rich man they expected would help but who ignored him.

Maybe it’s because I’m handicapped and think that could happen to me one day, abandoned by friends (as has happened to me) who thought it was someone else’s responsibility not theirs to help, though they claim to be Believers.

Maybe it’s the shock that Lazarus, who had nothing and could do nothing for himself, the one judged by the world to be a loser, ended up being consoled in the “bosom of Abraham”, some place of comfort, while the man who apparently had the wherewithal to become and remain rich ended up in hell.

But that’s kind of the point. Throughout the chapter (indeed, throughout the Bible) we hear GOD preaching the same theme: Grace. The poor man could do and did nothing for himself to earn Heaven. He was absolutely helpless, just as we all are with all our doing. And for all of his shrewdness, which was commended in an earlier parable about a steward who’d figured out a way to get in good with customers when his boss threatened to toss him out of his job, the rich man went to hell.

What I think really effects me, though, are the sores. Lazarus was covered with sores, absolutely helpless to help himself even from keeping the dogs away from them. (If you’ve ever been attacked by tiny flies or mosquitoes at a picnic you know how he felt, only he couldn’t even swat them away.) Like “salt in a wound”, not only was he hurting from the hunger, not only from sores (from bugs, disease, or pressure sores from not being able to move, or all of the above), but GOD allowed dogs to harass him as well.

Like Job, we are confronted again with the image of GOD allowing people to suffer in this world as a matter of course while others prosper. But though we’ve heard a whole herd of prophets before him, Jeremiah, David, Ezekiel, all complain at such treatment, we hear nothing of Lazarus’s response.
Unlike Job who found himself in a similar situation there is no record of Lazarus complaining (or anything that he said or thought for that matter).

Riches in this world mean nothing and though they comfort you for a while here they are useless in eternal life unless invested in things of eternity. That’s the obvious lesson of Luke 16.

But the subtler message that clings to my soul is that saints are allowed to get sores. GOD allows them to be abandoned by false friends, false Believers, and even harassed by the things of this world for a time. But time is limited.

Many people like to claim their rights today. They are quick to quote Thomas Jefferson that they have the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Pull yourself up by your bootstraps and anyone can make a fortune. But they forget the key phrase before that. We are ENDOWED these rights by our Creator. They forget those who have no boots, no shoes, no clothing, no food, no strength to help themselves.

We are to speak and act righteously against wrong doing, not self-righteously from wrong motives. And that can only come from the right spirit, the Spirit of GOD within us as Believers.

We have no right to wealth. We have no rights to most of the things prosperity preachers or TV ads trying to sell us services or products claim we have the rights to. But we do have the right (according to John 1:12) given to us by GOD to become His children, by believing in the finished work of JESUS Christ for us. We have the right to suffer in this life, and “the right to remain silent” about it if we choose to, knowing that sores of saints count more than all the riches and rubber bracelets of those who profess to be Believers but do not act out of His Spirit. We have the right to expect to be comforted, if our suffering is for Christ, righteousness or circumstances not from our own fault, not in this life but at Home just as runners in a race aren’t comforted until they cross the finish line.

Saints get sores and they may have nothing to do with their spiritual health or lack of it. And the simple act of helping them will not get the rich into heaven.

Riches cannot save you. Poverty cannot save you. But when you realize your spiritual poverty and accept the riches of Christ’s free salvation, His Spirit empowers you to share whatever He endows you with, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, financially with others for their comfort. Or, even if you can do nothing for yourself or others in earthly terms, to suffer in silence for His Glory.

JESUS finished he parable by saying that those who would not believe the testimony of the Bible and Believers before them would not believe even if one came back from the dead to tell them…just a short time before He would rise from the dead Himself. He bears today the sores on His hands, feet and side of that death even in His resurrected body. His sores attest that saints have sores but the One who allowed them has sores of His own on their behalf. If we suffer, let it be for Him, and to Him, without complaining but knowing the One who suffered for us looks forward to comforting us with His own comfort when we join Him at Home.

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