555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

305. What Classes of Mankind Did Dives and Lazarus Represent?

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16 :19), the object was to illustrate the result of neglect of duty in commiserating and relieving the sufferings of others; to show how wealth hardens the heart, shuts up the springs of human sympathy and makes the possessor selfish and indifferent to the wants of his fellowmen. The rich man was a type of those who, while possibly generous at times, were yet so centered upon worldly pleasures and self-indulgence that all else was a mere incident. Riches that are used only for our own aggrandizement and gratification become a curse, while the man who employs his wealth in dispensing aid and comfort to those around him and relieving the distressed is a blessing to the land in which he lives. This was the distinction which the Saviour drew in his parable of the division of the sheep and the goats, when the King repudiated those that stood on his left hand with the words: "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these ye did it not to me" (Matt. 25:45). Lazarus was a type of the hopeless, helpless, friendless poor who are to be found all over the world, and whose lot could be greatly benefited if people of means held their wealth as a beneficent stewardship. Nothing can be clearer than that it was the Saviour's intention to emphasize by these parables the divine law of love and sympathy which he came to teach the children of men by his own example.