What Is a Good Work?

"She has done a beautiful thing to Me."
What Is a Good Work?
We teach that reconciling God, making righteous, and wiping away sin is such a lofty, great, glorious work that Christ, God's Son, alone must do it, and that it is properly, purely, simply, and uniquely a work of the one true God and of His grace, in relation to which our work is and can do nothing. But to say that, because of this, good works should be nothing or be worth only a groschen—who has ever taught or heard this, except now, from the lying mouth of the devil? I would not give a single one of my sermons, one of my lectures, one of my writings, one of my Our Fathers—indeed, whatever small work I have ever done or will do—in exchange for all the goods of the world. In fact, I hold one of these to be of more worth than my bodily life, which is and should be of more worth to each person than the whole world. For if it is a good work, then God has done it through and in me. If God has done it and it is God's work, what is the whole world in comparison with God and His work? Even though I do not become righteous through such a work (for this must already have happened through Christ's blood and grace, without works), it has still been done to the praise and honor of God, for the help and well-being of my neighbor. None of these things can be paid for or compared with the world's goods.

From Luther's preface to Justus Menius, The Doctrine and Secret of the Anabaptists, Refuted from Scripture (Luther's Works 59:270-71)
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