44. Because love grows by works of love, man thereby becomes better. Man does not, however, become better by means of indulgences but is merely freed from penalties.
Those who were selling the indulgences were telling people that since they had the indulgence they did not need to worry about the poor or try and help them. Luther points out that we grow in our Christian faith as we exercise that faith in service to others. So his argument was that if you simply “buy” your faith you are not exercising anything. We are not showing love to those in need by buying indulgences.
This makes us think about the love of God that we receive. We are like a bucket that God fills up with love, then we share that love with those around us. As we give the love away there is more room for the love of God in us. He keeps our bucket full to overflowing. As we receive the love of God we are able to give it away. We are simply the conduit that funnels the love of God to those in need and therefore we never “run out of love”.
By nature from our birth our heart is filled with “love of self”. The Spirit of God comes upon us and forces out that self-love and brings the love of others. The more we love others the more the self-love is overcome. The buying of indulgences or the amassing of good works for the church cannot generate more love in us. That comes from the Spirit of God.
The hard part for us is that every day the love of self comes back into our life and we have to force it out once again.
Lord Jesus fill my cup to overflowing with Your love. Make me the instrument of Your love among Your people here on Earth. Receive the love that I share as a thank offering to You for the love that You have shown me. Amen.