A man does not live for himself alone in this mortal body to work for it alone, but he lives also for all men on earth; rather he lives only for others and not for himself. To this end, he brings his body into subjection that he may the more sincerely and freely serve others, as Paul says in Romans 14[:7-8], "None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord." He cannot ever in this life be idle and without works toward his neighbors, for he will necessarily speak, deal with, and exchange views with men, as Christ also, being made in the likeness of men [Phil. 2:7], was found in the form as a man and conversed with man, as Baruch 3[:37] says.
Man, however, needs none of these things for his righteousness and salvation. Therefore he should be guided in all his works by this thought and contemplate this one thing alone, that he may serve and benefit others in all that he does, considering nothing except the need and the advantage of his neighbor. Accordingly the Apostle commands us to work with our hands so that we may give to the needy, although he might have said that we should work to support ourselves. He says however, "that he may be able to give to those in need" [Eph 4:28]. this is what makes caring for the body a Christian work, that through its health and comfort we may be able to work, to acquire, and lay by funds with which to aid those who are in need, that in this way the strong member may serve the weaker, and we may be the sons of God, each caring for and working for the other, bearing one another's burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ [Gal. 6:2]. This is a truly Christian life. Here faith is truly active through love [Gal. 5:6], that is, it finds expression in works of the freest service, cheerfully and lovingly done, with which a man willingly serves another without hope of reward; and for himself he is satisfied with the fullness and wealth of his faith.The Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther
Thursday, June 24, 2010
"For freedom Christ has set us free..."
In preparing for this upcoming Sunday's sermon, where I continue preaching on the letter to the Galatians, I was re-reading Luther's "On Christian Liberty." I am ever thankful that I had been assigned this treatise in seminary. The resonance with Paul's letter is rich.