Ice Breaker (the goal is to identify whether we still care about the poor people around us)
Q: Mention the last time you noticed a poor person around you (can be your friends or some poor homeless people on the streets that you saw).
Luke 16:19-31: The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man
Explain the background of the Parable to your cell group members:
Jesus was teaching the Jews, especially the Pharisees. The parable was a “continuation” from the parable of the dishonesty steward. The Jews, especially the Pharisees”, believed that being poor and sick is a curse from God. Whereas being rich and wealthy, is a blessing from God and a sign that you are loved and favorable by God. This is wrong indeed! Jesus wanted to teach them that they were wrong!
Ask the group to read the parable together.
Observe the Rich man.
Q: The rich man resembles a Jew (a person who has believed in God). Can you identify the proof from this parable?
- Father Abraham on the verses
- Verse 25: Abraham called him: “Son”
- Moses and the Prophets
Q: How rich is this man?
- Dressed in purple: for kings (remember how Jesus was given a purple robe as a sign of King of the Jews on His crucifixion?), high priests. Dying your robe in purple is also expensive (the purple dye material).
- Fine linen: expensive
- “feasted sumptuously”, “living in splendour” (sumptuos: magnificent, splendid, abundance, great expense)
Now observe the poor man
Q: How poor is this man?
- “was laid” : possibly being laid by someone because he cannot walk. Notice how he’s lying down in front of the rich man’s gate.
- full of sores: the wounds are open, not even being bandaged! Nobody is taking care of him
- “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table”. According to some commentaries, during that time, people usually use a big loaf of bread to clean your hands on. Lazarus is waiting for the food remains that were sticked on the bread.
- The dogs are licking his wounds. Do you know that dogs usually lick their own wounds when they are injured? This is a show of sympathy. How pathethic is this man. No one cares about him except the dogs.
Q: If you read this passage, it looks as if the rich will go to hell/condemnation place, whereas the poor will go to heaven. What are your thoughts on this?
a. If the rich goes to hell, then why can you see Father Abraham on heaven? He was one of the richest man on the Old Testament!
b. The poor here, named Lazarus. It means “God is my helper”. Name plays a significant role on Jews history. Jesus wants to show to us that Lazarus is a man of God, who depends on God. Being poor doesn’t mean you can go straight to heaven!
Matthew 5:3 – blessed be the poor in spirit – being humble and always thirsty for God and His word.
Q: Then why did the rich man go to the condemnation place? It looks as if he didn’t do anything wrong here? Apart from being rich.
Well, first of all, do you think he knew about Lazarus? Notice on the passage, that he knew about Lazarus. He even knew his name. Lazarus also lied in front of his gate. There was no way the rich man couldn’t have noticed Lazarus when he went out from his house.
God doesn’t despise you for being rich, for having money. However, He hates it if you love your money more than Him. He wants you to care about the other people, especially the poor and the opressed. By doing that, it shows that you love God more than your money. It means that God’s love and glory will be shown within you.
Here we learn some verses on the bible that teach us about giving to the poor.
Why do we have to give to the poor? (His commands to us)
- Deuteronomy 26:12. (The Message) Every third year, the year of the tithe, give a tenth of your produce to the Levite, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that they may eat their fill in your cities
- 1 John 3:17. (ESV) But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
- Deuteronomy 15:7.(ESV) If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be
- Isaiah 58:6-7. (ESV) Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
- Jeremiah 22:16 (NIV) He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.
- Matthew 5:42 (ESV) Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
- Proverbs 14:31 (ESV) Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him.
- James 2:14-17 (ESV) What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
God’s blessings to us who give to the poor
- Proverbs 22:9 (NIV) A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor
- Deuteronomy 15:7-8, 10. (ESV) If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.
- Proverbs 19:17 (ESV). Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.
- Isaiah 58:10. (NKJV) If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday.
- Luke 14:12-14. (ESV) He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
- Matthew 19:20 (ESV). Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.
- Luke 12:33 (ESV). Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
God’s warning to us if we don’t give to the poor
- James 2:8-9 (ESV) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
- Ezekiel 16:49. (ESV) Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.
- Isaiah 10:1-3. (NKJV) “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees, Who write misfortune, Which they have prescribed To rob the needy of justice, And to take what is right from the poor of My people, That widows may be their prey, And that they may rob the fatherless. What will you do in the day of punishment, And in the desolation which will come from afar? To whom will you flee for help? And where will you leave your glory?
- Ezekiel 22:29,31. (NKJV) The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord GOD.
- Jeremiah 5:27-29 (NKJV) As a cage is full of birds, So their houses are full of deceit. Therefore they have become great and grown rich. They have grown fat, they are sleek; Yes, they surpass the deeds of the wicked; They do not plead the cause, The cause of the fatherless; Yet they prosper, And the right of the needy they do not defend. Shall I not punish them for these things?’ says the LORD. ‘ Shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this?
- James 5:1-6. (ESV) Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days.Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.
- Proverbs 21:13 (ESV) Whoever closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself call out and not be answered.
- Proverbs 17:5 (ESV) Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
Q (Reflection): When was the last time you were giving something financially to the poor?
Our attitude in giving
“When to give?”
Proverbs 3:27-28: Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
Give it now, not tomorrow. When God moves you, do it.
“How to give & Motivation in giving”
2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV). Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver
Matthew 6:2-4. (ESV) “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
This is a good way to check our motivation in giving. Don’t tell it to everyone that you have given your money to the poor. Everytime you hesitate and want to know what your real motivation in giving, read this verse and do it.
Closing Words for the Cell Group Session
Remind the cell group members, that if we truly love God, then we have to truly love His people. The passage wasn’t saying that if you are giving to the poor, then you will be in heaven. The bible told us that no good deeds that we can do to “buy that ticket”. We are all sinful people. It’s only by His Grace alone that we all can be saved. We have to believe in Jesus Christ and give our whole life and heart to Him (Romans 10:9). However, how can we truly love Him, if we use our money and riches for ourselves? Our money is not our own. It’s His. We are just His stewards on earth. You can’t take your money away with you when you are dead! Collect treasures on heaven. Not earth.
On the parable, there was a gate that separated the rich man and Lazarus the poor. That gate could easily be opened. However, there will be a gate that can’t be crossed, can’t be opened eternally. Open your gate now to the poor before it’s too late. Let God’s love be transferred through you to these poor people. Let them see and feel God’s love too.
Commit to something, a program or anything that shows your love to God. Sponsor a child, gives a donation to someone, etc. You can also commit to a program as a whole group. It will also strenghten the relationship between each of you in the group.