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Suffering Fools
Scripture and a reading from Luther's sermons and devotional writings

Today's online Scripture jigsaw

From the Word

19 For you gladly bear with fools, being wise yourselves! 20 For you bear it if a man makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.

2 Corinthians 11:19–20, RSV

From Luther

Paul delivers a masterly stroke when with the same words he praises and rebukes the Corinthians. His commendation of their patience is in reality reproof. He means to say: I have preached the gospel to you at my own expense and jeopardy. By my labor you have attained to its blessing. You have done nothing for me in return, I have been no tax upon you. Now, upon my departure, others come and captivate you, and seek honor and profit from my labor. They boast as though the accomplishments were all theirs. Of these you become the disciples and pupils. Their preaching you accept, while mine becomes odious. My case is that of the bee which labors to gather honey and then come the idle drones and earthworms and consume the sweet which they have not gathered.

You can suffer these false prophets though they be fools and teach you foolishness. In this you display wisdom and patience. But you do not suffer me, who taught you true wisdom. You can permit them to make servants of you, to be your lords and to order you to do their bidding. But I, who have made myself your servant, served you without profit to myself, that you might be lords with Christ, must now be ignored and all my labors lost. You suffer yourselves to be devoured; for you abundantly bestow your property upon them. But I have never enjoyed aught of yours. All my service has been without recompense, that ye might become rich in Christ.

You suffer the false teachers to take from you beyond your consent, to exalt themselves above you, to esteem themselves better than you and me, and to exercise their arrogance over you. But you deal not so with me, who have sacrificed my own substance, and have taken from others, that I might bring the gospel to you. They reproach you publicly, smite you in the face, put you to shame and abuse you with insolent words. But my patience with you, my parental tenderness, is remembered no more.

Luther, Martin, and John Sander. Devotional Readings from Luther’s Works for Every Day of the Year. Augustana Book Concern, 1915, pp. 83–84.

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