06 October 2010

Luther on Pride

In expounding the first commandment Luther says there are two parts to it, one positive and one negative--one, praising and trusting God alone, and two, not being prideful.

On the second part:
The second work of this commandment is to be on one's guard, to flee from and to avoid all temporal honor and praise, and never to seek a name for yourself, or fame and a great reputation, so that everyone may sing your praises and talk about you. This is an exceedingly dangerous sin, yet the most common of all, and unfortunately too little attention is paid to it. So deeply is all human nature sunk in the evil of its own conceit and self-confidence . . . that everyone wants to be looked up to and not be the least no matter how insignificant he may be.

Now the world regards this terrible vice as the highest virtue, and this makes it extremely dangerous. . . .

If a man had nothing else to do except the second work of this commandment, he would still have to work his whole lifetime to fight this vice which is so common to us all, so deceiving, so slippery to grasp, and so insidious that it is difficult to drive it out.
--From 'A Treatise on Good Works,' in Luther's Works, 44:42-43

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