“In great part we serve, teach, admonish, suffer, give consolation, and do things commanded by God for unworthy men. Here we gain nothing for our services but hatred, envy, and exile; and our whole life is nothing else than the loss of kindness. Therefore, you must never hope that the world will acknowledge and remunerate your faithfulness and diligence; for it does the opposite….Set another goal, therefore, for your service and your life than the thanks of the world. Its gratitude is suddenly changed into fury.” Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, Luther’s Works, vol. 7, pp. 97.
Dr. Luther gave sound advice in relation to worldly accolades in his lectures on Genesis. Here he considers Genesis 39:19 and Joseph’s tribulations in Egypt. He particularly warns future pastors to expect some to be grateful and others to want to take their lives. However, this idea can apply to anyone who teaches for worldly approval. Luther exhorted his students (most of whom became pastors) to serve and teach even the wicked and ungrateful in imitation of God (Matthew 5).
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