How We Serve God

From “Epistle Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent,” Church Postils (1544)

We are to endure riot from others against us, just as we are not to inflict hardship, calamity, beatings, and prison on others, but rather endure them from others… Endurance does not cause a riot but rather endures a riot… If anyone now accuses us of being rebellious, then let us remember that this had to be heard not only by the apostles but also by Christ in his innocent guilt. He was insulted with a rebellious title on the cross and had to die as the “King of the Jews,” rebellious against Caesar, as one how had attracted the people to himself and incited them.

In other points, such as endurance, affliction, hardship, calamity, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, wakefulness, fasting, chastity, etc, it is easy to understand how we serve God in them, since God does not want to have lazy, idle gluttons, or sleepy and impatient servants. He hits very well at our lazy squires who take tribute, have good days, and think they should not have to work… Everyone should work and earn his bread, as Paul teaches the Thessalonians. “With labor” (as he says here) we serve God, and not only that, but also we show that we serve God.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. His Church Postils were model exegetical sermons on the Epistles and Gospels of the Mass lectionary intended to help train pastors in preaching. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches.  This translation of the text is from Luther’s Words, trans and eds. Benjamin Mayes and James Langebartels (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing, 2013), Vol. 76, 360.


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