Notes

Luther, “I have my worst temptations when I am by myself”

Reformer Martin Luther once said, “I have my worst temptations when I am by myself.”

Roland Bainton comments in Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther, 285 (paragraphing mine):

Seek out some Christian brother, some wise counselor. Undergird yourself with the fellowship of the church. Then, too, seek convivial company, feminine company, dine, dance, joke, and sing. Make yourself eat and drink even though food may be very distasteful. Fasting is the very worst expedient.

Once Luther gave three rules for dispelling despondency: the first is faith in Christ; the second is to get downright angry; the third is the love of a woman.

Music was especially commended. The Devil hates it because he cannot endure gaiety. Luther’s physician relates that on one occasion he came with some friends for a musical soiree only to find Luther in a swoon; but when the others struck up the song, he was soon one of the party. Home life was a comfort and a diversion. So also was the presence of his wife when the Devil assaulted him in the night watches… Manual labor was a relief. A good way, counseled Luther, to exorcise the Devil is to harness the horse and spread manure on the fields.

In all this advice to flee the fray Luther was in a way prescribing faith as a cure for the lack of faith.

Attributed to Michael Johnson, “Luther’s Prescription for Despondency,” Desiring God. Accessed December 16, 2010.

The original post is no longer available but I post it here because this 500-year-old advice is still useful.