August 15

He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8

Even the most spiritually minded people have a difficult time escaping the temptation to love themselves.  As soon as they see that they are better than others in some way, they begin to love themselves and look down on others.  The Scripture provides us with a frightening example of this in the story of Saul.  He was well thought of and had no equal in Israel (1 Samuel 9:2).  He was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  But he didn’t do what Micah demanded in this passage.  Therefore, he fell into terrible disgrace and was rejected by God.

The church fathers spoke about the temptation to love ourselves in the following way: “No matter where you throw the head of a thistle, it will stand straight up.”  Similar to a thistle, this wicked attitude easily takes root in the hearts of believers.  It’s difficult for believers to avoid self-love.  As Augustine stated, this is the only evil that sticks to good works.  That’s why God allows his people to slip into sin, just as he allowed Peter and David to fall.  Shocked by their fall into sin, believers humble themselves.  They’re fearful of thinking of themselves to highly, and they want to keep in mind how weak they still are.  This is why David cried out, “My sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:3).

Believers humble themselves by recognizing and looking at their weaknesses and sin.  They try to avoid feeling proud of their works or of the gifts of the Spirit they have received from God.  This is what it means “to walk humbly with your God.”  We should be genuinely modest and humble, wanting to remain in the background.  We should never look for honor and praise for the good works we do.

Martin Luther, Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional

Edited by James C. Galvin

Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:

Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther

Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.

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