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42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend that the buying of indulgences should in any way be compared with works of mercy.

As Luther has said in many of the other Theses buying an indulgence should not take the place of repentance or confession. Buying an indulgence is not even proof of repentance. Works of mercy flow out of a humble and contrite heart. Buying an indulgence and thinking that you have now purchased God’s forgiveness does not lend itself well to a humble and contrite heart.

We are beginning to see a lot of what Luther thought the indulgences were not and we start to feel that maybe they are good for nothing! I think that was probably the point of Luther’s writing these Theses in the first place.

Works of mercy if done out of love for God and our fellowman would be considered as good works and would be the appropriate response of a person that was living a life of repentance. While they still do not merit anything from God they could be a sign that the love and forgiveness of God lives in us.

One can see why Luther would say that you cannot compare an indulgence purchased on the street corner, with an act of mercy done by the love of God.


Dear heavenly Father, fill my heart with your love O God that I may be a mirror of Your love to the people around me. Help me to let my light shine on the darkness of the world with works of mercy and overflowing love for all. In Christ, Amen.