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What Luther Says about How a Christian Treats His Neighbor

“A Christian should not and cannot (if he remains a Christian) be an unmerciful or vindictive man, because he has become God’s child, and from Him he has obtained mercy, in which he lives without ceasing. He should not have desire for or joy in his neighbor’s harm and misfortune or have a bitter, harsh, and stubborn heart toward him. Rather, he is much more disposed to show mercy to his neighbor, even to one who is hostile to him, and to take pity on his blindness and misery, because he sees him lying in God’s wrath and leading himself into eternal ruin and damnation, so that he is already all too highly avenged on him. Just for that reason he should be kind to him and show him all charity (provided that he will tolerate and accept it), so that in this way he may win him and bring him to repentance” (LW 78:192).

What Luther Says about God Chastising Those He Loves

“I have often seen excellent men horribly vexed by terrors, afflictions, and the severest persecutions, so much so that they nearly experienced despair of heart. But these things must be learned so that we may be able to comfort such men and interpret the temptations as the special manner by which God is accustomed to wrestle with us in the form of a destroyer and that we may exhort them firmly to retain the promise, or lamp and spark, of the Word in the hope that the rescue will certainly follow. For God leads down to hell and brings back (cf. 1 Sam. 2:6). Now you see His back parts, and God seems to be shunning you, but sometime later you will see His front parts and His face. This is what it means for Him to love those whom He chastises. This love must be learned from experience, nor should chastisement be avoided and shunned. The story is told of a peasant who, when he heard this consolation from his pastor, that the afflictions and troubles by which God afflicts us are signs of His love, replied: ‘Ah, how I would like Him to love others and not me!’

Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament Reading 

Ecclesiastes 5:10–20 (MT 5:9–19)

What Luther Says about Faith as the Foundation

“Without any wavering we must leave the foundation undisturbed, namely, that faith reconciles man with God and justifies him without any works, without any merit. St. Paul says, ‘We hold that man is justified without the doing of the works of the Law, only through faith’ (Romans 4[3:28]). And: ‘Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness’ (Romans 4[:9]), as it is also to us, etc. Likewise: ‘We are justified through faith and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5[:1]). Likewise: ‘If one believes from the heart, then he is justified’ (Romans 10[:10]). We must cling to these and similar passages much more firmly and immovably rely on them, that the forgiveness of sins and justification is ascribed to faith alone without any contribution from works” (LW 78:320).

Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament Reading 

Amos 5:6–7, 10–15

What Luther Says about the True Definition of Marriage

“But this is the true definition: Marriage is the divinely instituted and lawful union of a man and a woman in the hope of offspring, or at least for the sake of avoiding fornication and sin, to the glory of God. Its ultimate purpose is to obey God and to be a remedy for sin; to call upon God; to desire, love, and bring up children to the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of the Lord; and to bear one’s cross. But if no children result, you should nevertheless live content with your wife and avoid promiscuity” (LW 4:244).

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament Reading 

Genesis 2:18–25

What Luther Says about Loving Our Neighbor

“Love by itself teaches him how he is to do good works, for those only are good works which serve your neighbor and are good. Yes, what is such love other than working without ceasing for your neighbor, so that works have the name of love, just as faith [has the name] of prayer? Thus Christ says: ‘My commandment is that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15 [:12–13]). It is as if He meant to say: ‘I have so completely done all My works for your good that I even give My life for you, which is the very greatest love, that is, the greatest work of love. If I had known of a greater love, I would also have done that for you. Therefore, you should also love and do everything good for one another. I require nothing more from you. Do not tell Me that you will build Me churches, make pilgrimages, fast, sing, become monks or priests, or take up this order or that estate. Rather, you do My will and serve Me when you do good to each other and no one pays attention to himself but to others; all of this is completely on the inside’ ” (LW 79:75).

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Old Testament Reading 

Numbers 11:4–6, 10–16, 24–29

What Luther Says about the Death of Abraham

“What follows in the text—‘As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace’—is a most beautiful comfort. For our thoughts are as follows: Abraham dies as an exile, and not until long after his death do his descendants obtain the promise of the land of Canaan. What, then, becomes of what God said above: ‘Fear not, Abram, I am your Shield; your reward shall be very great’? What good is this to one who is dead? This is indeed something great, and I pray that what God promises concerning a pleasant old age and a peaceful death may happen to me. But what is this in comparison with such a magnificent promise?