Thoughts On Letters Of Spiritual Counsel (Luther)

The same truth must be applied differently in different situations.

A person of Jewish descent can still stand Martin Luther (who showed frequent anti-Semitism) because of these letters. He was a real human being, trying to make a difference for God in his generation. The death of his daughter, the pastoral love and care with which he approached many people, the boldness with which he addressed the powerful.

Faith is the integrating factor, in every situation, for Luther. “You must respond to truth; growth in faith takes you to the answer to this situation.” In my estimation (Dan’s), many of the Christian cynicisms of our day are a direct result of a growing faithlessness in God – respecting the theological tradition of suffering and difficulty to an extreme, and reposing ourselves to no longer exert the energies of faith in every circumstance. Faith proceeds from adoration and worship.

A Quote For Courage
p. 157 “Our rainbow is frail, and their clouds are mighty, but it will appear in the end to whose tune we shall dance.”

A Quote On Suicide
p. 58 “I am not inclined to think that those who take their own lives are surely damned. My reason is that they do not do this of their own accord but are overcome by the power of the devil, like a man who is murdered by a robber in the woods.”

A Quote For Breaking Free From Bondage
p. 86 “Whenever the devil pesters you with these thought, at once seek out the company of men, drink more, joke and jest, or engage in some other form of merriment. Sometimes it is necessary to drink a little more, play, jest, or even commit some sin in defiance and contempt of the devil in order not to give him an opportunity to make us scrupulous about trifles.

We shall be overcome if we worry too much about falling into some sin. Accordingly if the devil shoud say, ‘Do not drink,’ you should reply to him, ‘On this very account, because you forbid it, I shall drink, and what is more, I shall drink a generous amount.’ Thus one must always do the opposite of that which Satan prohibits.”

MY GREAT QUESTION:

Because many of the great Christian leaders, writers and reformers tend to carry a personal battle with pride, they address it most frequently, and have convinced the whole church that the greatest battle of humankind is the virulent pride that elevates oneself above God.

In my estimation, while this is a tandem truth, it is our low view of ourselves that has been the most original systemic evil. Thinking we are not what we are, majestic sons and daughters of God, sparkling among the lesser glories of creation, we strove to become something more.

I long for writings, and to write myself, lessons that cultivate our sense of personal majesty in the light of God – not diminishing God by this recognition, but rather amplifying His glory by living in the center, led by His guidance, of our own.

LESSONS FROM LUTHER ON ADDRESSING MELANCHOLY:

To Jerome Weller, in battling melancholy, p. 84-87 of Luther’s Letters Of Spiritual Counsel.

1. Persevere.
2. Laugh.
3. Free Solitude.
4. Take Fun.

Luther chose his own name – Luther – it means “freedom.” His original name was close to this.

He had a passion for freedom translated into action, an ability to cut to the chase.

It threw Europe into turmoil; it took courage to move ahead with these strong convictions. His theology didn’t remain in an ivory tower, but went to the heart.

PRINCIPLES FROM LUTHER’S LETTERS OF SPIRITUAL COUNSEL

1. Through everything, we’re called to respond with courage, and to grow in faith. (Today, we tend to be more nurturing, like a warm blanket. We soft-pedal things that don’t equip for the long haul. Suffering is a scalpel on one hand, but there is also a bully at work. Jesus responds to suffering with “this isn’t my Father’s will. So he breaks the suffering, and brings the Father’s healing. God’s in control, using suffering to make you better – it’s true in the midst of suffering, refining you, but sometimes there is simply a bully that must be dealt with. Classic Christians state that the way to deal with suffering is to assume its come from the Father. Assume that God knows all about it, respond to it, and expect God to move in you through it).

2. Life here is full of suffering. (Don’t leave because of the plague; stay and take people into your home, care for them. One of Luther’s friends got the plague by kissing a woman on the lips as she was dying, saying “Recieve Jesus, receive Jesus.”

3. God sends suffering to test us.

4. The next life will make it worthwhile. (Jacquie Pullinger, “So much of this life will only make sense in the day of the Lord.” How we view the next life will totally determine this one.)

5. A relationship with Christ is more important than any loss.

6. Medicine is of some value, though more may be happening than natural causes reveal.

7. The devil is to be fought, and this included melancholy.

8. Help the poor even if some are unworthy. (he lived in the years of rulers; he worked for the poor and thought it was a great use of his time, p. 186)

9. Mercy is an underlying principle. (p. 175, to John of Saxony, poor friars are complaining, Luther’s “enemies” on one hand, we must take good care of them; they’re old and need aid.)

10. Tough love is appropriate in some cases. (p. 146-7. To Melancthon. Speaking on Luther’s behalf. Kicks his butt. He is also hard on his wife’s anxiety for him.)

11. The importance of home. (his wife, p. 107, his “pope.”)

“He who has God and everything else, has no more than he who has God alone.”

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