Year of Mercy: Mercy Eventually

Luke 16:19-31 is not an easy parable to interpret.  But one thing is clear: mercy will be given to all who failed to receive it–even if it only happens in heaven.

The rich man never gave Lazarus a crumb.  Dogs were more compassionate.  The rich man was so into himself that he never lifted a finger to help Lazarus even though he passed by him every day.  In time, both men died.  What should have been, never was. 

Well, not quite.  Lazarus is shown mercy in eternity, and whatever that actually turns out to be, it is a sign of hope for anyone who should have received mercy but was deprived of it.  The rich man stands for those who live cold heartedly saying in effect, “What’s mine is mine, I’ll keep it.”

But God holds the great balancing scales and offers mercy even when we withhold it.  God’s open heart says, “What’s mine is yours, I’ll share it!”

Mercy and compassion are conjoined.  Mercy and generosity go hand-in-hand.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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