He hailed from Julu 鉅鹿 (modern Pingxiang 平鄉, Hebei) and was a small jail overseer (yu xiaoli 獄小吏) in his younger years. This post might have to do with his interest in administrative and penal law. He was promoted to prison clerk (yushi 獄史) and then clerk of the Judicial Section (juecao shi 決曹史).
At that time he studied the Confucian Classic Chunqiu 春秋 "Spring and Autumn Annals" and also became an expert in astronomy. He was known as a very upright and incorruptible official. He was recommended by Jie Guang 解光 and thereupon promoted to clerk for the Chamberlain for Law Enforcement (tingweishi 廷尉史) at the imperial court.
During the reign of Emperor Jing 漢景帝 (r. 157-141 BCE) he submitted a memorial suggesting a benevolent government and to use the penal law with caution. The emperor made him Head of the Private Storehouse (sifu zhang 私府長) of Guangyang 廣陽. Later he was made aide (cheng 丞) to the governor of of Youfufeng 右扶風 close to the capital.
When Lu Wenshu asked to be dispatched as an embassador to the steppe federation of the Xiongnu 匈奴 he was demoted and transferred back to his former office. Not long after he became governor (taishou 太守) of the commandery of Linhuai 臨淮, an office in which he died.