Just recently I’ve been thinking about what my aunt said to me a number of years ago, “If I get it wrong in this life (after I die) I’ll be able to come back and hopefully get it right” When she said this to me I was troubled and began thinking about how wrong she was. Now I am not saying that we do not get second chances in THIS life…that’s what the mercy of God is all about. But what I am talking about is this: Once you’ve taken your last breath in this life…you do not get another chance to come back, there are no do-overs.
Allow me to share with you the same scripture that I shared with my aunt. This truth taught by Jesus himself is very clear about getting it right in this lifetime: “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his sores. Finally the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hell he lifted up his eyes in torment and saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. The Rich man shouted, “Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, I am in anguish in these flames.” But Abraham said to him, “Son, remember that during YOUR LIFETIME you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted and you are in anguish. And besides there is a great chasm (gap) separating us. So no one can cross over to you from here and no one can cross over to us from there.” Then the rich man said, “Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. For I have five brothers, and I want to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.” But Abraham, Moses and the prophets (God’s ministers) have warned them, your brothers can read what they wrote.” The rich man replied, “No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent from the dead they will repent of their sins and turn to God.” But Abraham said, “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets (God’s ministers) they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead” Luke 16:19-30 (NLT & KJV)
As you can plainly see, Jesus is very clear about our life today and eternity. Here was a man who had it all and yet he refused to help the poor man who was laid at his gate every day. Throughout his lifetime this man was given opportunity after opportunity to reach out and help this poor man, and instead of helping he chose to “pass by” This true story is very similar to the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37 where Jesus teaches us about compassion and how a Samaritan helped a Jewish man who was robbed and beaten. The Samaritan did not even know this man, but unlike the Priests and Levites, who chose to ignore and pass by Jewish man, he chose to help. Jesus said the Samaritan treated the mans wounds, took him to an Inn so that he could heal and rest and paid the inn-keeper for caring from him while he continued on his journey.
The man who was in torment recorded in Luke 16 knew about the law of Moses, the Royal Law of Love, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” Mathew 22:37-40.
God’s will for our lives is to not only understand his mercy but to also understand the importance of what loving our neighbor truly means. To understand His saving Grace that only comes through Jesus and what He did for us on the cross and second to understand how the Christian, the believer in Christ is expected to live when it comes to loving our neighbor and the importance of compassion. Ephesians speaks of this amazing grace and what God has created us to do the moment we receive Jesus Christ by faith, “That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast…FOR WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS TO DO GOOD WORKS, WHICH GOD HAS BEFORE ORDAINED THAT WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM” Eph 2:7-10 This means that once we receive his Grace through Jesus Christ, we are then called and expected by our Heavenly Father to GO and do “good works” which is loving our neighbor by helping the poor, those in need, showing compassion toward them. In most churches we’re taught “saved by Grace” and then they stop there. But the following is just as important…we are now “Created in Christ Jesus to DO good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them (get busy helping others!)
WHEN WE STAND BEFORE JESUS: Just before Jesus was crucified he taught the importance of helping others in Mathew 25, in fact he began teaching about what will take place on the day of judgement. He says that all nations, which means all people (including believers) will stand before Him and said, “Then the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he shall set the sheep on his right hand the goats on the left. Then shall the King (Jesus) say unto them on his right hand, ‘Come you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: FOR I WAS HUNGRY AND YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO EAT: I WAS THIRSTY AND YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO DRINK, I WAS A STRANGER AND YOU TOOK ME IN: NAKED AND YOU GAVE ME CLOTHING, I WAS SICK AND YOU VISITED ME. I WAS IN PRISON AND YOU CAME TO ME’…then shall the righteous answer him, saying, ‘Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you and give you something to eat? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you and stranger and take you in? Or naked and cloth you? Or when did we see you sick and in prison and come to you?” And the King (Jesus) shall answer and say unto them, ” Verily I say to you, in as much as you’ve done it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you’ve done it to Me…” Mathew 25: 31-40 Jesus taught this coming day just before he was taken away to be crucified…and after His resurrection, the church of this generation began “doing” exactly what Jesus taught them “And they continued in the Apostles doctrine (Jesus teachings of love your neighbor)…And all that BELIEVED were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and shared them with every man and woman that had need….And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: Neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed (things) was his own; but they had all things common (shared with each other)…Neither was there any among them that lacked: For those that had lands or houses sold them, and brought the money of the things that were sold and laid them at the Apostles feet: And they distributed them to every man and woman that had need. Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37 The Christians, the followers of Jesus took His words seriously and began helping their brothers and sisters, obeying Jesus commandment to love one another: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another, by this shall all man know that you are my disciples if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35. As I mentioned earlier, Jesus gave the definition of love and compassion regarding the Good Samaritan when he said, “Go and DO likewise” John who learned from Jesus also gives us a very clear understanding about love and that it is not just a word, but is in fact “action”, “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion–how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God (Reach Mathew 25:31-46 Jesus shows us what he will ask us when we stand before him)…And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he commanded us. Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.”
You and I can get it right, right now, today just as the early church began to do in the book of Acts. Jesus revealed these truths to my husband and myself nearly 12 years ago (we’ve found over 80 scriptures throughout the old and new testament regarding helping those in need) and we have been teaching His truths ever since. If you’re not a Christian yet, do as the scriptures teach, ask God to forgive you, believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, believe it in your heart and confess it with your mouth (Romans 10:8-10) and when you do a miracle takes place, God’s very own Spirit comes to live inside of you, and His Spirit is love. Now that you are saved by His Grace...go and DO what he says: Love your neighbor as Jesus taught and demonstrated in his own life (the scriptures say that he and his disciples gave to the poor). I encourage you to read the entire chapter of James chapter 2, Mathew 25, & 1John chapter 3. Also a great read along this subject is “The Hole In Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns.
By: Pastor Nina Tidwell of Ponce Church