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Table of Duties – To Youth (with commentary)

Table of Duties


To Youth

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you. [1 Peter 5:5-6]

“In short,” preaches Dr. Martin Luther on this text, “we have come to the point where all men, with their insolence and boastfulness, seek to lord it over others. None will humble himself to another. Each thinks he has full right to act as he does, and is under no obligation to yield to others… At last, God must strike with thunder and lightning to prove to us that He resists [‘God opposes/resists the proud’] such people and will not tolerate pride. Therefore the young, who can still be led, should be exhorted and trained, as far as possible, to guard themselves against this vice [pride].” Luther’s words strike us as true today as they were in the 16th Century when he preached them.

All people need to “gird themselves” with humility – to bind it or tie it together with them, so that it cannot be torn apart from you easily. Even in the face of a person or situation that presents itself as pure evil, Luther urges via the words of St. Peter – do maintain humility, do not exalt yourself. Humility should be a part of who you are. It is an important part of “being subject” to those over you in life, of remaining in the correct God-given order. This virtue of humility and self-control must be taught from youth, a lifelong lesson.

To be prideful, under the temptation and urging of Satan, as we deal with those around us, is to destroy the blessed unity of family, church, and community in which God places us. True earthly exaltation is to take joy in such blessed unity, a picture of the perfect unity and exaltation of heaven to come. So Luther urges the young to resist pride with these words: “Rather say to yourselves. We are Christians, and must bear with each other and yield, in many things; for we are all one body, and we are placed together here on earth for the sole reason that we may, through love, serve one another… each one is created for the sake of others, and we are all to serve one another.”

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