Where is our Focus? The Helpless Heroes and the Vindictive Prideful, Part 11


Helping the needy

After telling the story of the shrewd manager (See Luke 16), Jesus shared another story to make us aware that thinking of others is far more important than anything else. It was the story of a poor beggar named Lazarus and a rich man. Some say that this story is a parable; however, Jesus mentioned someone by name, something He had never done before in a parable. And He didn't mention just anyone either. Rather, he mentioned Lazarus, someone who everyone knew, and someone who had recently died and been raised to life (see John 11:11-44). I truly believe that Jesus was sharing with the crowds what Lazarus experienced in his life and death.

Jesus' story went like this: During his lifetime, Lazarus was covered with sores, begging at the gate of the rich man. Sadly, his best friends were dogs (See Luke 16:21b). The rich man, on the other hand, never even noticed Lazarus. How sad to ignore people in need! When both of them eventually died, Lazarus went to heaven. The selfish rich man, however, ended up in hell, and now he was the one asking for mercy. He begged Father Abraham: "Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I'm in agony in this fire." Luke 16:24 (MSG) Doesn't this remind us of the following Bible verse: "This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first." Matthew 19:30 (MSG)?

When his request was refused, the rich man then begged Father Abraham: "…let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so he can tell them the score and warn them so they won't end up here in this place of torment." Luke 16:27-28 (MSG) Finally this rich man was beginning to think of someone other than himself. Unfortunately for him, it was too late.

Father Abraham's response to the rich man's plea is quite revealing: "They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them." Luke 16:29b (MSG). In others words, God's Word gives us enough warning for us to know to do what is good and right in life. It is when we ignore its advice that we are headed for trouble. Focusing solely on ourselves will never fill us with peace and happiness: "If they won't listen to Moses and the Prophets, they're not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead." Luke 16:31 (MSG)

A few verses earlier, Luke 16:14 helps us see that this story was directed towards the money-obsessed religious who only focused on themselves: "When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch." Luke 16:14 (MSG). When Lazarus rose from the dead, the Pharisees didn't believe him either, for the Bible records: "The high priests plotted to kill Lazarus." John 12:10 (MSG)

Milton S. Hershey was an unusual man. He didn't focus on himself. He focused on others. He amassed millions of dollars, thanks to his Hershey products; but he used the bulk of his wealth, 160 million dollars, the bulk of his money, to establish a school for orphan boys. He truly believed that if children were given the chance to learn, they would blossom. And these orphans did indeed blossom!

During the Great Depression of 1930-1933, many industries went bankrupt. This was not the case with Milton S. Hershey's industry. Though production was limited, his factory kept on running and his employees continued to receive paychecks. True enough, the paychecks were smaller, but the workers were still able to put bread on the table, something for which they were very grateful.

Instead of complaining about their reduced pay, Hershey's employees showed appreciation for how they were cared for. After all, focusing on others will make us way happier than focusing solely on ourselves. Even the "religious" could learn from this!

Who would like a Hershey bar?

Rob Chaffart

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