The chief message of this parable is presented here, lest it be overshadowed by the material that follows.
Is it a sin to be rich?
Paul warned of greed when he wrote "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1st Timothy 6:10).
However, there is no scriptural evidence that money itself is evil. If it were a sin to be rich, men like Abraham, Job, David, and Joseph of Arimathea would have been lost.
What sin did the rich man commit?
The horrible fate that the rich man suffered begs the question, "Of what sin was he guilty?" Jesus did not indicate that the rich man became wealthy by cheating others. He did not directly accuse this man of murder, adultery, or any other sin he had committed.
Sin of neglect
The rich man was not punished for a specific sin that he committed. Rather, he was punished for a sin of omission.
Remember how Lazarus was laid at the gate of the rich man's house? Despite his wealth, the rich man ignored the needs of a poor man that he could see whenever he entered or left his own home.
The Lord's rebuke on Judgment Day brings home the gravity of the sin of neglect:
Then He will also say to those on His left, " Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me." (Matthew 25:41-43)
How many will be lost, not for what they did, but for what they failed to do?
Importance of stewardship
Both Lazarus and the rich man had stewardships. Lazarus' was the stewardship of suffering, which he endured until his life ended.
The rich man was given the stewardship of wealth. But by neglecting his fellow man, he became unfaithful with much. Lack of generosity and concern for one in need destroyed the rich man.
- James 2:14-17
- Matthew 25:31-46