Now we have the Ten Commandments, a summary of divine teaching about what we are to do in order that our whole life may be pleasing to God. Everything that is to be a good work must arise and flow from and in this true fountain. So apart from the Ten Commandments no work or thing can be good or pleasing to God, no matter how great it is in the world's eyes. Let us see now what our great saints can boast of their spiritual orders and their great and mighty works. They have invented and set these things up, while they let these commandments go, as though they were far too insignificant or had long ago been perfectly fulfilled.
I am of the opinion that one will find his hands full ‹and will have enough› to do to keep these commandments: love, meekness, patience, towards enemies, chastity, kindness, and other such virtues. But such works are not of value in the world's eyes. Therefore, they are not highly regarded.
But the other works cause people to open their eyes and ears wide. Men waft incense, they sing and ring bells, they light tapers and candles. For when a priest stands there in a surplice garment embroidered with gold thread, or a layman stays all day upon his knees in Church, that is regarded as a most precious work, which no one can praise enough. But when a poor girl tends a little child and faithfully does what she is told, that is considered nothing. For what else should monks and nuns seek in their cloisters? (paragraphs 311-314)
Condensed from CONCORDIA: THE LUTHERAN CONFESSIONS, copyright 2005,2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of CONCORDIA, call 800-325-3040.