Pastoral Humility by Martin Luther

“The ministers of the Gospel should be men who are not too easily affected by praise or criticism, but simply speak out the benefit and the glory of Christ and seek the salvation of souls. Whenever you are being praised, remember it is not you who is being praised but Christ, to whom all praise belongs. When you preach the Word of God in its purity and also live accordingly, it is not your own doing, but God’s doing. And when people praise you, they really mean to praise God in you.

When you understand this–and you should because ‘What hast thou that thou didst not receive?’–you will not flatter yourself on the one hand and on the other hand you will not carry yourself with the thought of resigning from the ministry when you are insulted, reproached, or persecuted. It is really kind of God to send so much infamy, reproach, hatred, and cursing our way to keep us from getting proud of the gifts of God in us. We need a millstone around our neck to keep us humble.

There are a few on our side who love and revere us for the ministry of the Word, but for every one of these there are a hundred on the other side who hate and persecute us. The Lord is our glory. Such gifts as we possess we acknowledge to be the gifts of God, given to us for the good of the Church of Christ. Therefore we are not proud because of them. We know that more is required of them to whom much is given, than of such to whom little is given. We also know that God is no respecter of persons. A plain factory hand who does his work faithfully pleases God just as much as a minister of the Word.”

–Martin Luther, A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, Trans. Theodore Graebner. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1939), pp. 230-31.

(HT: Philip Ryken @ the Ref21 Blog. I was able to track down the appropriate citation.)

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Filed under Martin Luther, Preaching, Quotable Quotes

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