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Good Works have no Name

Filed Under: Luther's Devotions

Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Matt. 7:12.

Faith brings and gives Christ to you with all his possessions. Love gives you to your neighbor with all your possessions. These two things constitute a true and complete Christian life; then follow suffering and persecution for such faith and life, and out of these grows hope in patience. Where, then, are the good works which you are to do to your neighbor? They have no name. As the good works which Christ does to you have no name, so your good works are to have no name. They have no name so that there may be no distinction made and they be not divided, else you might do some and leave others undone. You shall give yourself entirely to him with all you have, the same as Christ gave himself wholly to you, with praying, fasting, all works and suffering, so that there is nothing in him that is not yours and was not done for you. Thus it is not your good work that you give alms and pray, but that you offer yourself to your neighbor and serve him, whenever he needs you and in every way you can, be it with alms, prayer, work, counsel, comfort, apologizing, clothing, food, and if need be, with suffering and death.

If you have ears to hear, listen and learn what good works are. A work is good for the reason that it is useful and benefits or helps the one for whom it is done; why else should it be called good? A tree bears fruit, not for itself, but for the good of man and beast, and these fruits are its good works. You are not to do good to God and to his dead saints, they are not in need of it; still less to wood and stone, to which it is of no use, but to men. To men you should do everything that you would they should do to you. A man is to live, suffer and die for his wife and child, the wife for the husband, children for parents, servants for masters, masters for servants, the government for subjects and subjects for governments, each one for his fellow man, even for his enemies. Such are truly Christian and good works, and should be done at all times, in all places, and toward all people.

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