Why People Go to Hell
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So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Lk. 16:22-23)
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People do not go to hell for the soft tropical breezes or the majestic views. This parable identifies the key reason they go there: selfishness.
Look at the evidence in this parable. In his earthly life, the rich man cared only for himself and his comfort. He "received his good things" (v. 25), while his poor neighbor did without--and he didn't care. Only on the other side did he finally realize how badly his priorities had been distorted.
The rich man’s selfishness did not end at death. Notice that his plea to father Abraham was not to get OUT of hell, but to have Lazarus come serve him IN hell. "Have mercy on ME . . . cool MY tongue" (v. 24). Even in hell, it was still all about him, and others existed only to serve him.
Furthermore, consider his follow-up request to have Lazarus go back from the dead to warn his brothers of this awful place. When Abraham reminded him that they already had Moses and the prophets, he protested, that's not enough: "No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent" (v. 30). The implication being that he ended up in hell because HE had not been given enough information. Poor, pitiful rich man; so mistreated!
This man's narcissism in this life followed him into the next. It was so deeply ingrained in his character, he couldn't escape it--even in hell.
Before we laugh at the rich man's self-importance, we'd better take a good look at ourselves. How much of our decision-making is influenced by the same kind of selfish considerations that got him in trouble? How much of our time and energy is spent on looking out for our own interests rather than the interests of others? The answers to those questions tell us everything we need to know about the current trajectory of our lives.
And that trajectory will take us either to heaven . . . or to hell.
Vacation update: The Kings will be leaving tomorrow for a two-week vacation to the West Coast. Winglets will be taking a break during that time. Look for a return sometime around June 8.