Colorful Sayings of Colorful Luther
God creates out of nothing. Therefore, until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him.
If you perhaps look for praise and would sulk or quit what you are doing if you did not get it—if you are of that stripe, dear friend—then take yourself by the ears, and if you do this in the right way, you will find a beautiful pair of big, long, shaggy donkey ears.
Affliction is the best book in my library.
on the Bible:
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me.
I’d like all my books to be destroyed so that only the sacred writings in the Bible would be diligently read.
on Marriage and Family:
Think of all the squabble Adam and Eve must have had in the course of their nine hundred years. Eve would say, “You ate the apple,” and Adam would retort, “You gave it to me.”
People who do not like children are swine, dunces, and blockheads, not worthy to be called men and women, because they despise the blessing of God, the Creator and Author of marriage.
Faith is the “yes” of the heart, a conviction on which one stakes one’s life.
The truth is mightier than eloquence, the Spirit greater than genius, faith more than education.
Our faith is an astounding thing—astounding that I should believe him to be the Son of God who is suspended on the cross, whom I have never seen, with whom I have never become acquainted.
on Human Nature:
Nothing is easier than sinning.
Human nature is like a drunk peasant. Lift him into the saddle on one side, over he topples on the other side.
God uses lust to impel man to marriage, ambition to office, avarice to earning, and fear to faith.
Temptations, of course, cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.
A lie is like a snowball. The longer it is rolled on the ground the larger it becomes.
When I preach I regard neither doctors nor magistrates, of whom I have above forty in my congregation; I have all my eyes on the servant maids and on the children. And if the learned men are not well pleased with what they hear, well, the door is open.
It is not necessary for a preacher to express all his thoughts in one sermon. A preacher should have three principles: first, to make a good beginning, and not spend time with many words before coming to the point; secondly, to say that which belongs to the subject in chief, and avoid strange and foreign thoughts; thirdly, to stop at the proper time.
on Church Practices:
A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a cardinal without it.
What lies there are about relics! One claims to have a feather from the wing of the angel Gabriel, and the Bishop of Mainz has a flame from Moses’ burning bush. And how does it happen that eighteen apostles are buried in Germany when Christ had only twelve?
Farewell to those who want an entirely pure and purified church. This is plainly wanting no church at all.
The devil should not be allowed to keep all the best tunes for himself.
I have no use for cranks who despise music, because it is a gift of God. Next after theology, I give to music the highest place and the greatest honor.
on Christian Freedom:
Sometimes we must drink more, sport, recreate ourselves, aye, and even sin a little to spite the devil, so that we leave him no place for troubling our consciences with trifles. We are conquered if we try too conscientiously not to sin at all.
If our Lord is permitted to create nice large pike and good Rhine wine, presumably I may be allowed to eat and drink.
Not only are we the freest of kings, we are also priests forever, which is far more excellent than being kings, for as priests we are worthy to appear before God to pray for others and to teach one another divine things.
Oh, if only I could pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Otherwise he has no thought, wish, or hope.
No man should be alone when he opposes Satan. The church and the ministry of the Word were instituted for this purpose, that hands may be joined together and one may help another. If the prayer of one doesn’t help, the prayer of another will.
I have often learned much more in one prayer than I have been able to glean from much reading and reflection.
Next to faith, this is the highest art: to be content in the calling in which God has placed you. I have not learned it yet.
Our Lord God must be a pious man to be able to love rascals. I can’t do it, and yet I am a rascal myself.
“[Others] try to make me a fixed star, but I am an irregular planet.”
If I rest, I rust.
By Mary Ann Jeffreys
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #34 in 1992]
Martin Luther’s Early Years: Christian History Timeline
Chronology of events related to Luther's life and the Reformation.Ken Schurb
Preaching From the Print Shop
If Luther hadn’t used the new printing technology, would there have been a Reformation?Perry Brown
Luther suffered from them, too.Perry Brown
The Bible Translation That Rocked the World
Luther’s Bible introduced mass media, unified a nation, and set the standard for future translations.Henry Zecher