The Only Thing We Have Left to Do

Pentecost 14 Sunday

Psalm 50:9-12

“I will not take bulls from your house nor goats from your barns. For all the animals in the forest are mine, as well as the beasts walking the hills by the thousands. I know all the mountain birds and all the beasts of the field are before me. If I were hungry, I would not tell you. For the earth is mine and all that is therein.”

I have often been amazed at this daring of the prophets that they spoke so disparagingly of the sacrifices, against the law of Moses, and the customs of the people…By rejecting the highest worship established by God, [these verses] make a significant distinction between all the religions of the world, including the one established by Moses and commanded by God, and the Christian religion. They differentiate from all these forms of worship this one worship which happens by faith in Christ, by which the sins are forgiven and righteousness is given along with eternal life, without works and without merits, only because God is merciful and forgives through Christ. This religion teaches that the works and worship services should not be done so that God is reconciled by them. It also teaches that sin cannot be eradicated by sacrifice, fasting, obedience in the political or domestic spheres, or by any other human work. These works, to be sure, are holy and good works by themselves; they also please God, but when they are done for a purpose other than the one God intended when he commanded them, then God is not only not reconciled by them; he is also offended by them…This is why he says in Psalm 50: “I will not take bulls from your house…for all the animals in the forest are mine…and the earth…and all that is therein.” He means to say: “In vain do you think that I am reconciled by your works, for even your soul, your senses, and your entire life are yours because I gave them to you as a gift. Thus, if I needed what you have or are able to do, I would not have given it to you”…Thus, there is nothing left for us to do but to give thanks to him. For all we are, live, and have is God’s gift, as it also says in Romans 11:35: “Who has given a gift to him?” Therefore, when we do everything we are able to do, we do nothing but to give back to him what we have received. Yet how do we thereby do anything special?

St. Louis ed., 5:599-601.

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