LÖHE ON 1 JOHN 4:21

rich man and lazarusAnd he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1Jo 4:21 NIV)

Poor Lazarus lies at the door of the rich man. A poor, naked and sick beggar full of sores and no real attraction to that wealthy man dressed in silk and precious linen and feasting consistently off extravagant opulence and abundant luxury. Between the one and the other there seems to be a high and impenetrable wall that can not be surmounted except by one filled with the love of God and for his fellow beings. However this rich man doesn’t know about this kind of love. There is no real love for his fellow man outside, just as there is no love for God in him either. How could he recognize his brother in his misery if he doesn’t recognize their one and common Father in heaven?  That is obvious if we look at the example of this rich man. Yet did that rich man just live once? Don’t we find his type everywhere and at all times? Do we find him only amongst those extremely rich or not also amongst us, who have enough to get by every day? You get my drift dear brothers and sisters? My goal is your heart. My questions are testing you. It is my desire to bring you to insight that all lack of brotherly love that plagues us here on earth is due to the lack of love for God amongst us people. You either have them both or none of them. Blessed is he, who recognizes this and lives in the love of God with his brothers and sisters.

Gracious God and Father! In your Son you have loved us from the very beginning. Through him you have graced us with countless gifts and blessings in body and soul. Ignite in us your love by your Holy Spirit and keep us from all that opposes you. Help us that we may be willing to serve, help and support our fellow beings gladly and joyfully – and thus gratefully respond with active love and service to your Son Jesus Christ, who was made for us to be wisdom, righteousness, holiness and salvation. (Prussian Agenda, 1895)

Blessed are those who mercifully take care of foreign need and have compassion with the poor, bringing supplications for them to God, serving them with good advice and helpful works of mercy. They too will receive help and mercy as they need it. (David Denicke, 1603-1680)

This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the first Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 222 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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