Summary: The people of Sodom cared nothing for the poor and needy, and this is one of the reasons Sodom was destroyed. Do you know why this lack of concern for the helpless angered God?
OPEN: A woman wrote in Reader's Digest about the time when she 10 ten years old and she found a wallet. There wasn’t any money in it, just a paper with a phone number and address on it. But she knew how these things worked. She’d return the wallet to its owner and THEN she’d get a reward! She called the number she’d found in the wallet all day long but nobody answered. So, she pestered her dad until he finally gave up and drove her to the owner's address. When they got there, was obvious the family that lived there wasn’t well off. It was a modest military housing unit with a torn screen door.
She wrote: “As I rang the bell, my dad took three $20 bills and tucked them into the wallet.” (Ann Douglas Vaughan, Newport News, VA in Reader's Digest 7/14, p. 22)
APPLY: Now, what was she expecting when she returned the wallet? MONEY! To her 10 year old mind, she deserved a financial reward for helping someone else – and you really can’t blame her. She was only 10 years old. But there are adults who think that very same way.
The idea of giving money away just doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. I NEED that money. I have bills to pay, I have improvements I need to make on my house and car, etc., I have to entertain myself and satisfy my basic human desires, I have vacations I want to take, and… well, I have WANTS. There are things that I want to buy that would make me feel good about myself.
Now did you notice what that little girl’s father taught her that day? He taught her that sometimes other people need money more than we do. Sometimes it’s the right thing to help out the poor and the needy. Sometimes it’s more blessed to give than to receive.
More blessed to give than to receive? Where have I heard that before? Does anybody remember who said that? That’s right – it was Jesus. In Acts 20:35 Paul reminded the Elders from Ephesus: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Notice that Paul said the purpose of “giving” was to help the weak. We’re not talking about TITHING here. We’re not talking about what you put in the plate on Sundays. We’re talking about us personally helping the poor and needy outside of church.
Now, giving to the poor was NOT what Sodom was doing. Our passage tells us “Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: … pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49
Did you see that? Sodom had the time (they had prosperous ease). They had an excess of food (they had more food than they could eat). They had more time and food than they knew what to do with… they just didn’t want to share any of that with anybody else.
ILLUS: There’s a true story of a wealthy man who went for counseling for an anxiety disorder. He admitted that one of the reasons he was so anxious was because he worried all the time about his money. The psychologist tried to get the man to see that this wasn’t helpful and asked the rich man “Do you get ANY pleasure when you worry about your money?” The man replied: “No, but I get such terror when I think of giving some of it to somebody else.”
Folks like that wealthy man have money to give, they just hate the idea of doing it. And, in the same way, the Sodomites had time and food to give - they just hated being bothered.
It’s kind of like the story of the Rich man and Lazarus that Jesus told: “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’" Luke 16:19-31