The Worth of Humanity

Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.
PSALM 62:9
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The Worth of Humanity
Here you may ask: "What? Is humanity worth nothing, even though it is a creature of God?" I answer: David is not speaking about the creature as such but about the use of the creature. That is, humanity is certainly a good thing; but it is not put to good use. . .. In what way? Because people try to put their trust in them and to build on them. For such use they are worth nothing. Why? Because they are uncertain in their hearts and in their lives. Sand and water are a good thing too; but if I wanted to build a house on them, they would be worth nothing and less than nothing. When I drink water, however, or wash with it, then it is not worthless but a precious and useful thing; for this is what it was made for, this is its proper use. . .. How is it possible that men are lighter or smaller than nothing? What can be smaller than nothing? I answer: That which is obviously nothing does not deceive anyone. But anyone who trusts in that which is nothing suffers a twofold loss: first, because he finds nothing; secondly, because he loses what he has expended on it. Anyone who has a mere nothing has a simple nothing and does not expend anything on it. But anyone who trusts in men not only finds nothing but loses what he has expended on them. Thus his hope and his expense come to naught on the nothing in which he hoped.

From Four Psalms of Comfort (Luther's Works 14:239)
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