From the Word
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14–16, RSV
Let the Christian know that his earthly life is not unto himself, nor for his own sake; his life and work belong to Christ, his Lord. Hence his walk must be such as shall contribute to the honor and glory of his Master, whom he should so serve that he may be able to say with Paul, not only with respect to the spiritual life — the life of faith and righteousness by grace — but also with respect to its fruits — the outward conduct: “It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me.” The world is to recognize Christ by his shining in us.
It is an astonishing fact that the world is merged into so great darkness that it utterly disregards the Word of God and the conditions he designed for our daily living. If we preach faith in God’s Word the world receives it as heresy. If we speak of works instituted of God himself and conditions of his own appointing, the world regards it as idle talk. Living a simple Christian life in one’s own family, or performing faithfully the duties of a servant, is of no value, but it says: “Oh, that is merely the following of worldly pursuits. To do good works you must set about in a different way. You must creep into a corner, don a cap, make pilgrimages to some saint; then you may be able to help yourself and others to gain heaven.”
The Scriptures teach no other good works than God enjoins upon all men in the ten commandments and which pertain to the common conditions of life. True, these do not make such a brilliant show in the eyes of the world as do the self-appointed ceremonials constituting the divine service of the hypocrites; but they are true, worthy, good and profitable works in the sight of God and man. What can be more acceptable to God and advantageous to man than a life lived, in its own calling, in the way that contributes to the honor of God, and that by its example influences others to love God’s Word and to praise his name? Therefore, influence men by your godly walk and good works to believe in Christ and to glorify him.
Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 374–75.