“When you know better, you do better!” Have you ever heard this said to you in an admonishing tone. I’ve just recently become acquainted with it myself. On the surface, it seems to make perfect sense. The basic scheme suggests that, when we have gained knowledge of a “higher” way of living, then we will produce the outward expression of this virtue. Avoiding the pitfalls of sin and living a virtuous life are lofty goals indeed, but as Christians it is important to discern the heart of the matter, seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, trusting that by His grace alone, will all these things be added to you.
There’s a lot of talk going around in the Church these days, about how to be the best church we can be. We need to advocate for the poor and marginalized; take in the stranger; solve world hunger; just to name a few. With the world still teeming with its fair share of sin, the list of things we “need” to accomplish continues to expand, until the load seems unbearable. Because we Christians “know better!” Right?
So thinks the old sinner. He thinks that we who have been justified—set apart by God to be his own Children in baptism—should be able to solve these wicked problems. Why can’t it just be “God’s work, our hands”? Amidst all of this righteous flexing, we fall back into that same old trap the devil is keen to set for us. The adversary says; “Show me!” and we, who love the challenges posed by the Law, often take the bait.
Luther had a way of responding to the devil’s accusation in very earthy terms. I will not quote it explicitly here, but suffice it to say that our dear Dr. Martin clung to the gospel with such faith, that he felt confident enough to mock the devil, turning him into nothing but a joke as St. Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:55.
In clinging to the good news, we are taken hold of by the one who gives it: the Godman, Jesus Christ. We are simply called to “be still and know” (Ps 46:10). A God who comes down, to suffer for and with us in our lowly state, does the work. In Christ he redeems a creation that could not redeem itself, and through His eternal Word, He promises to accomplish his purpose (Is 55:11).
You will indeed, be put to work, but the work is His. In simply allowing your soul to wait in silence for the Lord (Ps 62:1), His eternal Word will do this work in and through you, without your left hand knowing what your right is doing (Mt 6:3). As Luther himself was fond of saying, “I did nothing, while the Word did everything.” Thanks be to God!
Fides Ex Auditu,
Vicar Joe Pinzl