Luther: Look Around Yourself

Let us, therefore, mark well that whoever possesses God’s Word must also love God, that is, he must heed what God commands, follow him and say, “O Lord Jesus Christ, you have opened my eyes so that I understand that by your death you have redeemed me from sin and by your resurrection have made me an heir of the kingdom of heaven and eternal life. Now, dear Lord, I want to thank you for your great, unspeakable grace; for my part I shall gladly do whatever conforms to your will. You have commanded me to honor father and mother; I will resolutely and gladly endeavor to do it and be obedient. You have commanded me faithfully to serve my master and mistress, work diligently, and be obedient; I shall gladly do this also. You have set me to be the father or the mother of my family; dear God, I want to be upright; with desire and love I want to do what I ought to be doing and would rather die than not follow you by failing to care for my children and servants, or provoking them. This is the good fruit which should follow from the Word; it indicates that you truly love God.” That God should now in return not love such upright, obedient Christians, who honor and love him and his Word, and not grant them good fortune and well-being, is impossible.

So then, let each person examine his own heart and see how much he loves God. For loving God does not occur by merely thinking about it, as those stupid monks believe. To love God, as the Lord says in another passage, means to love the neighbor. God puts it this way, “If you want to love me, then love your father and mother, your child, your husband, your wife, your master, your mistress; that is want I want from you.” Accordingly, I say, Look around yourself to see if you are doing these things, and you may then know whether you love or hate God.

We will discover then that there are many more who hate than love God; yes, that the only ones who love God are christian believers, who have God’s Word and love Christ, although not as perfectly as they indeed should. They say, “Because Christ has loved me, I wish in turn to love my neighbor and with all my heart gladly do what I am supposed to be doing. But if I should occasionally act in anger, impatience, or exhibit other failings, I sincerely regret it and would like to become better.” This is how Christians act; those who are not Christians do not proceed like that.

– First House Postil for Trinity 13 (Luke 10:23-37)

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