Can God’s Grace Be ‘Worn Out’?

Consider aspects of the parable of Lazarus and the ‘Rich Man’ (Luke 16:19-31)

“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.

Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.

In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame. But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house–for I have five brothers–in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Key Points in the parable:

(a) Lazarus was poor and the Rich man was wealthy

(b) The rich man never did help the poor man who was in constant need, he let him remain a beggar while he wined and dined with all his riches

(c) They both face the same thing in the end – death

(d) After death they received different outcomes – Lazarus was in comfort and the rich man in torture (roles reversed for these two in the afterlife)

(e) No one gets more than what they already have to arrive at faith, since no one from the dead is coming back to tell you anything (the parable is obviously in reference to Jesus – but this point is also there).

What’s any of this have to do with grace? Ask the rich man.

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4 thoughts on “Can God’s Grace Be ‘Worn Out’?

  1. back in the day, ‘prosperity’ was a sign of God’s blessing. what Jesus is doing here is overturning that theological position. riches mean nothing if they are horded and not used to help those at your doorstep. it’s a practical stance, not a metaphysical one in my book. it’s a sermon of grace preached via negativa showing what grace-filled living is not.

  2. “back in the day, ‘prosperity’ was a sign of God’s blessing…” (Z1G)

    I think in some ways it still is.

    “riches mean nothing if they are horded and not used to help those at your doorstep” (Z1G)

    I kind of get the same thing from that parable, but parables also have a complexity to them – which can have a variety of meanings in their content. In this one, grace which was not ‘given’ was also not ‘shown’.

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