Summary: We all face alternatives when we could do this or we could do that

“I Could.... Or I Could....”

Luke 16:19-31

David P. Nolte

We are often confronted with alternatives such as: We come to a fork in the road; do we leave it there or pick it up? Okay, wrong kind of fork. Which branch of the road do we take? We have an opportunity to go fishing or to stay home and weed the garden? Easy choice! We can’t make up our mind between pizza or Chinese food. Alternatives means choices we could make. “I could do this, or I could do that.”

Not all choices are between good and evil, or right and wrong. Many alternatives are personal preference, like whether clams make better fertilizer or fish bait..

But many times the alternative we choose makes a huge difference in our lives, and the lives of others, for good or ill.

We are in week 3 of our 28 days of love series. Today we will remember that we have alternatives and that we could do one thing or we could do another. This week we have the opportunity to help Family Tree Relief Nursery by providing the items listed on the flier in the bulletin. We could skip it or we could be generous. I encourage generosity. Please bring your gifts by next Sunday.

The Bible contains the story of a man who faced an alternative that we all face sometime in life. “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.’” Luke 16:19-31 (NASB).

I’ve entitled the sermon. “I Could .... or I Could....”

1. I Could Care Just For Me Or I Could Care For Others:

a. The rich man cared only for himself. He dressed in fine clothes, lived in splendor. But a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, hungry for just the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; and dogs were coming and licking his sores.

b. Lazarus, a poor man, was in bad shape. The rich man had it in his power to benefit the man. He could ignore him or invest in him – he chose to ignore the need. He cared only for himself, not Lazarus.

i. Like the Priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan. They ignored the man as he lay in the road but it was the Samaritan who cared.

ii. Like the rich man whose barns were full and he had a bumper crop. He could have helped a widow or a poor family but he chose to build bigger barns. Ignoring the needy around him, he cared just for himself.

iii. Like one man who exemplified that in his prayer: “Lord bless me my wife, our son, his wife, us four and no more.” What kind of prayer is that? He has reduced God to his exclusively personal bodyguard, valet, and Aladdin’s Genie.

c. Both James and John point out the folly of knowing a need but not caring and ignoring it.

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