The rich man in Jesus’ parable never lifted one finger to help poor Lazarus. He didn’t act to relieve even a small part of Lazarus’ suffering. The rich man totally ignored him. And God’s people do not ignore the hurting. When Jesus gives us that picture in Matthew 25 of the last day, he makes it clear that we’re all going to be separated according to whether or not we helped people who were hurting.

We are saved by God in order to bless others. We are redeemed by God in order to serve others. We don’t love others so we can feel good, we love others because we have been loved. We don’t bless others so we can look good, we bless others because we have been blessed. We don’t lift up others to earn favor or points, we lift up others because we have been lifted up.

God’s desire is to do something in you and something through you. He is changing you so you can bless other people. But that is never going to happen until we see people the way our Father sees people. We must see the hungry, the lost, the poor, the sick; we have to see the lonely, the stressed, the depressed, the sad — we must see them all through the eyes of our God. We see all people for who they are: men and women created in the image of God. We see all people for who they can be: physically and spiritually whole, restored to a righteous relationship with their Creator. We see all people for what our Lord desires them to be: one with him and with all our brothers and sisters in his Kingdom.

But the rich man views Lazarus as his servant. Even after they both die and the rich man is being tormented in the flames and Lazarus is sitting in Abraham’s lap in an air-conditioned heaven with a root beer float. The rich man still sees Lazarus as an object to be used. He still thinks he’s better than Lazarus.

“Send Lazarus to bring me some water! Send Lazarus to warn my brothers!”

Helping the hurting is the evidence that your heart has been changed by grace. It’s a proof that your life has been transformed by the Spirit. It identifies you as a child of God.

“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth.” ~1 John 3:17-19