Martin Luther on the “Masks of God”

Martin Luther, the great German reformer, was instrumental in breaking down the artificial divide between “sacred” and “secular” work. In God’s economy, all work done in faith should be seen as a vocation—literally, a call from God on our lives. I recently ran across an interesting passage of his talking about God working through our human work, where he refers to our work as the “masks of God.” The following quotes are from Luther’s “Exposition of Psalm 147,” in Luther’s Works, Volume 14.

“God could easily give you grain and fruit without your plowing and planting. But He does not want to do so. . . . What else is all our work to God—whether in the fields, in the garden, in the city, in the house, in war, or in government—but just such a child’s performance, by which He wants to give His gifts in the fields, at home, and everywhere else? These are the masks of God, behind which He wants to remain concealed and do all things.”

“We have the saying: ‘God gives every good thing, but not just by waving a hand.’ God gives all good gifts; but you must lend a hand and take the bull by the horns.”

“Make the bars and gates, and let Him fasten them. Labor, and let Him give the fruits. Govern, and let Him give His blessing. Fight, and let Him give the victory. Preach, and let Him win hearts. Take a husband or a wife, and let Him produce the children. Eat and drink, and let Him nourish and strengthen you. And so on. In all our doings He is to work through us, and He alone shall have the glory from it.”