A Lesson from Luther

Mike Johnson

Luther was quite slow from a mental standpoint.  He was well liked in the community and was easy to get along with.  However, some of the young men in the community just could not resist having some fun with him from time to time.  At the little store where the guys always “hung out,” they would play a little game with Luther.  They would say, “Luther, here is a dime and here is a nickel.  Which one do you want?”  Luther would always choose the nickel, which was, of course, the largest coin in size.  At this point, the boys would all get a big laugh.

A few years later, one of the young men who had moved away returned to his hometown for a visit.  Eventually, he made his way to the little store.  He saw Luther at a distance and asked someone if people still played the little game with Luther and if he always chose the nickel.  They told him that people still played the game with him from time to time, and “Yes, Luther still always chose the nickel.”  The young man then called Luther over and played the game, and, as usual, Luther chose the nickel.  However, the young man felt a little bad about it this time (maybe he had matured some), so he decided to explain things to Luther.  “A dime,” he said, “is smaller in size than a nickel, but is  worth more in value.  A dime is worth ten cents while a nickel is only worth five cents.   So  you  should  always choose the dime.”  Luther looked at the man very earnestly and said,  “I know that, but if I choose the dime, they will stop doing it.

The boys thought they were so smart and that Luther was so dumb.  Who actually showed a lack of intelligence?  It certainly was not Luther.  He was getting the nickels.  He was smarter than they thought.

The story about Luther illustrates a very important principle.  It teaches that things are not always as they appear.  A person, an idea, or a concept may appear to be unintelligent and useless to some.  However, a person’s view is not correct simply because he thinks it is the correct or enlightened view.

There are a lot of people today who view preaching and God’s Word as foolishness and as a complete waste of time.  They may not even believe in God.  These people may even think of religion as a crutch and of Christians as ignorant and unenlightened,  thinking of themselves as intelligent and enlightened.  Many may not actually express these ideas, but they show their belief in them by their lives.  They have little interest in spiritual things.  They instead serve such things as pleasure, lust, riches, and greed.

Some people were like this  in Paul’s day.  They thought of themselves as wise and thought of preaching as foolish.  I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  In verse 21 he said, “. . . it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”  We are  saved by the “foolishness” of preaching.  Preaching, of course, was not actually foolish.  Paul came to them with the very simple message of “Christ crucified” (vs. 23).  Yet, Paul said that the world by its wisdom knew not God (vs. 21).

Some in Paul’s day saw the value of preaching and obeyed God.    I Corinthians 1:18b says this about preaching, “ . . . but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  Those people saw where true wisdom existed.  While others saw preaching as foolishness, they saw it for what it was—the power of God for salvation.

Let us not think of God’s Word as valueless and useless as some people do.  We need to see God’s Word for what it is.   It is important; it is the wisdom of God.  Romans 1:16 says that it is the power of God unto salvation.  James 1:21 says, “ . . . receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

How do you regard God’s Word?  The way that you respond to it will determine where you will dwell eternally.  One day the Judgment will occur, and then it will be clear to all that God’s holy Word is not foolishness, but that it is the power of God unto salvation.  If you view God’s Word as foolish, think of Luther.  Remember, things are not always as they first appear.