THE WEEK OF TRINITY XI – THURSDAY

LESSON: PSALM 9:7‒12

“The tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast.” Luke 18:13

We are urged to produce works as evidence of faith, not that we should pile up merits by them. Doing works freely and gratuitously for the benefit of our neighbor must become our normal procedure. In urging such works upon us, God is saying to us in effect, “If you have faith, heaven is yours. But even so, in order not to deceive yourselves, do some works.”

The Lord pointed this out in an excellent manner when He said to His disciples, “This I command you, to love one another” (John 15:17). And just before this, during evening supper, He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34‒35).

Before this He stated, “I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you” (John 13:15). Christ means to say here, “You are My friends, but no one can detect this from your faith. But if you show forth fruits of faith, and your love bursts forth, people will be able to recognize you as My friends. The fruits will not save you or make you My friends; you must prove yourselves to be My friends, and that you are saved by your fruits of faith.”

Therefore, note this well! Faith alone makes you godly. Although it is a living force and a great treasure, because it lies hidden in you, works must emerge and attest your faith to the praise of God’s grace and the condemnation of the works of men. You must lower your eyes and humble yourself before everyone so as to win over your neighbor by your service to him. For this reason also, God prolongs your life; otherwise, you would have deserved to lose your head long since. This you see well illustrated in this pious tax collector.

SL 11:1490 (13)

PRAYER: Strengthen our faith, heavenly Father, by Your means of grace, that we may always produce abundant proof of our faith in good works to our neighbor, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Editor’s note: No American Edition (AE) equivalent for today’s sermon excerpt exists at the time of this publication. For an alternate English translation of this sermon, see Lenker, Church Postil—Gospels, 4:336-347.