Love, Money and Pigs

24 Jul

Luther speaks his mind on a sensitive subject. Some pastors don’t want to talk about it. Many parishioners don’t want to hear about it. But Martin Luther never shied away from it – money.

He was generous with his money and spoke naturally about money as one of God’s gifts. Money and love are connected, he thought. When we realize how much God loves us, we will want to give as God gives. “If I have won someone’s heart, I will soon have his purse too”, he said.

Luther was aware of the dangers of wealth: “Even if you should become rich justly and with God’s help…do not make mammon your god. Property is not given to you for you to build your trust on or boast about, all of which is vanity and nothing, but for you to use, enjoy and share with others”.

As he looked at his 16th century contemporaries, Luther saw greed becoming worse. The human heart covets goods and honor, he wrote, “the more it has the more it wants. If it possessed the whole world, it would like to have two worlds; if it had two, it would like to have ten.”

“Nowadays one sees a scrambling after riches…even among those who want to be called Christians…. But such behavior may well be called a life of swine. For the strongest hog at the trough pushes the others away, as though it wanted to devour everything alone.”

Be the master of your money, not it’s servant, Luther advised. “When (one) sees a man who has no coat, he says to his money: Come out, young Mr. Gulden! There is a poor naked man who has no coat; you must serve him. Over there lies a sick man who has no refreshment. Come forth, Sir Euro! You must be on your way, go and help him. People who handle their possessions in this way are masters of their possessions. And, surely, all honest Christians will do this. But the folk who are saving much money and are forever scheming how to make the pile larger…are servants (to their money).”

The servant of money, according to Luther, “sinks deeper and deeper into greed, he gets farther and farther away from the word of God, and finally he becomes completely hostile to it.” To be masters of our money, spend it educating children, Luther said. Spare no means as this is “a war with the very devil, who is out to secretly sap the strength of the cities and principalities (by keeping children from education).”

Luther also said the Spirit will perform powerful deeds in hearers of God’s word so that “you are ready to surrender your money, property…everything you have for (your neighbor’s) salvation.”

Luther also takes on corporate greed: “Even in secular law it is decreed that everyone should carry on his business in such a way that others can still get along and support themselves. But now there is no room for anyone next to these…lions, who monopolize every kind of business. And meanwhile they want to be called pious and honorable people.”

“If God has given you wealth”, Luther said, “give thanks to God and see that you make the right use of it.”

Christian-Charles de Plicque
Christian Journalist For Finlands’ Österbottningens tidning
Angel House International Missions Ministries Association
1997 Karleby Finland

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