Rich Man Poor Man

“Money is the root of all evil.”

Drawing by an anonymous master on parchment

Drawing by an anonymous master on parchment

Actually no, money is not the root of all evil. Like so many other people frequently do, I misquoted the passage from 1 Timothy 6: 10. What it actually says is “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (UKNIV).

In Luke 16 we are told about a rich man, who is never named, and a beggar called Lazarus. When lazarus died he “was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” or put another way, he was taken to Heaven. The rich man also died and went to hell, but could see Lazarus in heaven.

The rich man appealed to Abraham to have mercy, and send Lazarus with water. When that failed he appealed again, this time that Lazarus be sent to his brothers, to warn them not to make the same mistakes he does.

There are a couple of interesting points within Luke 16, and I make them here with thanks to Rev. Bev. For her sermon.

Firstly, the rich man in this passage is not dignified by being named. He is referred to only as “a certain rich man” or “the rich man”. The poor man, we know, is called Lazarus.

Lazarus was often at the rich man’s gate. He was starving and would have been happy just to beget the leavings of the rich man’s table. The rich man gave him nothing. It is fair to assume, I think, that the rich man could easily have fed Lazarus and hardly noticed a loss, yet he chose not to do so. It seems he ignored Lazarus.

After their deaths, while the rich man is appealing for help he uses Lazarus’ name to Abraham. By calling the poor man by name, it is clear that the rich man knew Lazarus, knew his situation. He actively chose not to help lazarus, so he could not claim ignorance.

The reason, it seems to me, that the rich man was condemned to hell had nothing to do with the money he had. It had everything to do with how he chose to use his money. Or, in this situation, not use his money. It seemed all he wanted to do was hoard his wealth.

Wealth that is just hoarded, not put to use, is effectively a wasted. In relation to his wealth, it would have cost the rich man a negligible sum to relieve the beggar. Lazarus’, suffering. Jesus isn’t telling us that money is a bad thing, only that what we do or don’t do with it can be bad, if we don’t use it properly


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