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Luther on Idolatory
May 4, 2009, 10:13 am
Filed under: Some food for today | Tags: ,

Many a one thinks that he has God and everything in abundance when he
has money and, possessions; he trusts in them and boasts of them with
such firmness and assurance as to care for no one. Lo, such a man also
has a god, Mammon by name, i.e., money and possessions, on which he
sets all his heart, and which is also the most common idol on earth.
He who has money and possessions feels secure, and is joyful and
undismayed as though he were sitting in the midst of Paradise. On the
other hand, he who has none doubts and is despondent, as though he
knew of no God…
So, too, whoever trusts and boasts that he possesses great skill,
prudence, power, favor, friendship, and honor has also a god, but not
this true and only God. This appears again when you notice how
presumptuous, secure, and proud people are because of such
possessions, and how despondent when they no longer exist or are
withdrawn. Therefore I repeat that the chief explanation of this point
is that to have a god is to have something in which the heart entirely
Thus it is with all idolatry; for it consists not merely in erecting
an image and worshiping it, but rather in the heart, which stands
gaping at something else, and seeks help and consolation from
creatures, saints, or devils, and neither cares for God, nor looks to
Him for so much good as to believe that He is willing to help, neither
believes that whatever good it experiences comes from God.
Ask and examine your heart diligently, and you will find whether it
cleaves to God alone or not. If you have a heart that can expect of
Him nothing but what is good, especially in want and distress, and
that, moreover, renounces and forsakes everything that is not God,
then you have the only true God. If, on the contrary, it cleaves to
anything else, of which it expects more good and help than of God, and
does not take refuge in Him, but in adversity flees from Him, then you
have an idol, another god.
Martin Luther (1483–1546). From Luther’s commentary on the first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).


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