[The rich man] was not damned because he robbed or did evil with respect to these goods, for he feasted and clothed himself sumptuously every day with his own goods. He was damned rather because he did not do good to his neighbor, namely, Lazarus. This parable adequately teaches us that it is not sufficient merely not to do evil and not to do harm, but rather that one must be helpful and do good. It is not enough to “depart from evil”; one must also “do good” [Ps. 37:27].
Luther then argues that the parable of the “slothful servant” in Matthew 25:14-30 makes the same point: “He was not damned because he took something away from others, but because he did not give to others. So it will be with us.” The same message is found, Luther points out, in the parable of the Sheep and Goats. After discussing the concluding words of Jesus in the parable, Luther concludes: “It is therefore not enough to be innocent of harming one’s neighbor; we must also do good as far as we are able” (8-9).