Luther Devotions on Jesus’ Teaching of Lazarus and the Rich Man

I have not posted much recently, it’s been busy months with COVID 19 adaptations of ministry at my congregation, Zion Lutheran in Ridgeville Corners, Ohio. All are invited to visit Zion’s new website! –

Some of the best things to share are always teachings from Martin Luther. These two excepts are from this week’s readings from Luther for the Busy Man (pages 226-227) from his sermon on Luke 16:19-31. Blessings!


Where there is true Christian faith, rich attire and sumptuous food will never be major considerations. Christian faith does not look for earthly good, honour, pleasure, power or anything outside of God Himself. It seeks, desires and clings to nothing but God, who alone is the highest good.

Whether there is costly fare or little to eat, whether there is splendid attire or nothing but very simple clothing, makes very little difference to Christian faith. Even if Christians must wear costly attire and wield great power in a position of honour, they think little of it. It may be that they have been forced into this by circumstances or that they must adopt such procedures in the interests of their neighbour. Queen Esther declared that she wore her royal crown reluctantly, but was compelled to do so for the sake of the king. David would have preferred to remain a common man. He was compelled to become king for God’s sake and the sake of the people.

This is the way all believers regard their elevated roles in this world. They are compelled to accept power, honour and glory, but they never allow their roles in life to ensnare their hearts. Basically they continue to serve God and their neighbour however they may find themselves situated in this life.  


One sin follows another. The rich man clothed in purple and faring sumptuously every day forgot his love towards his neighbour. He let poor Lazarus lie at his door and gave him no help. Even if he was disinclined to give Lazarus some help personally, he could still have ordered his servants to make a shed available to him where they could have done something for him.

This came about because he had no real understanding of God and had never experienced God’s goodness. He who has experienced God’s goodness also has some feeling for his neighbour’s misfortune. But he who has never experienced God’s goodness, also has no feeling for his neighbour’s misfortune. Even as he finds no pleasure in God, so also his neighbour’s plight never touches his heart. Faith is so constituted that it looks to God for all that is good and relies on God alone. Out of such faith man learns to know God, how good and gracious He is. From this knowledge of God, man’s heart is also softened and inclined to mercy, so that he readily does for everyone what he feels God has done for him.

The result of all this is love, by which a man begins to serve his neighbour with his whole heart, with body and life, with property and honour, with soul and spirit. He is ready to bestow everything on his neighbour, as God has done this for him . He does not look for healthy, high, strong, sick, noble and holy people, who have no need of him, but for the sick, the weak, the poor, the despised people who are sinners, to whom he can be useful. On these he can exercise his mercy and serve them as God has served him.

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